JOHN O’Shea insists Sunderland have nothing to be scared of ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Arsenal.
The two sides meet up for the second time on Wearside in the space of a week with the Gunners having won the dress rehearsal last weekend, pulling off a dramatic 2-1 victory.
Despite that Premier League loss, Black Cats defender O’Shea believes Sunderland can take heart from the way they competed against Arsene Wenger’s men at the Stadium of Light, with only a lapse of concentration in the final minute of injury time denying them a point.
However, O’Shea has warned that in order to reverse that result, the Black Cats will have to raise their game a
notch against an Arsenal side who will no doubt be eager to make amends to their fans following their midweek Champions League mauling in Milan.
O’Shea said: “We’ve nothing to be scared of – we’ll approach the game the same way we did today and look to cause them problems on the break.
“We’ve got to be positive and be brave enough to keep the ball and I’m sure we’ll cause them more problems on the break. Hindsight is great, you take each game as it comes. We’re gutted we lost last weekend, but if we do beat Arsenal in the cup it’ll soon be forgotten. It won’t necessarily give us the upper hand, because the teams in the Champions League have experienced squads to cope with it and I’m sure whatever team Arsenal put out will be full of internationals and a team more than capable of causing us problems.”
Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill will wait and see before deciding whether or not skipper Lee Cattermole can make his return from a hamstring injury.
“Lee has done a little bit of training over the last couple of days,” said the Black Cats boss.
“As we speak we haven’t yet gone out this morning, so he’s got today and tomorrow. We’ll have a little look. Lee is playing very well at the moment and would be a great addition for us.”
Also in contention for a possible return are Matt Kilgallon and David Vaughan, while Nicklas Bendtner is edging towards a comeback from the facial injury he suffered in the home win over Swansea City last month.
O’Neill added: “Bendtner has done some training but is of course ineligible to play in the Arsenal game.
“David Vaughan is making some progress. Matthew Kilgallon is coming through as well, though he didn’t make the squad last weekend because he’d only done one or two days’ training.
“It’s been a good week for him, too. We are getting a few people back. We’ve played a few games in pretty quick succession and I haven’t really rotated the squad. Whatever rest you can get during the course of the week you might as well try to utilise. With Arsenal playing midweek, the hope is that the roles might be somewhat reversed in this weekend’s game.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland forward Jordan Cook has had his loan spell at Carlisle United extended until March 10.
The 21 year-old initially joined Greg Abbott’s side during the January transfer window and has featured in all four of the Cumbrians’ League One games since, including two starts.