Wes Brown can be key to survival believes John O'Shea

John O’Shea believes that fit-again Wes Brown can lift Sunderland towards Premier League survival

Richard Sellers/Getty Images John O'Shea (L) and Wes Brown celebrate Phil Bardsley's goal against Southampton
John O'Shea (L) and Wes Brown

Gus Poyet is set to hand Brown his second start in a week – a remarkable turnaround for a player who had not made an appearance since January 2012 and was offered the chance to leave the Stadium of Light in the summer.

O’Shea is delighted that his former Manchester United team-mate is back in the mix, and believes his experience will be a major factor in the relegation battle Sunderland find themselves in.

He said: “You don’t need me to tell you his background and how good a player he is, just touch wood he stays fit because he is going to be a big big asset to climbing us up the table especially having an impact on other players around the place, knowing we have him fit for the rest of the season will be a big boost for us.

“It is presence, his defending, he is a natural defender, keeps things simple and we will need clean sheets to get up the table and every defender at the club is going to have to focus on that and having a player of his experience and quality will help us.”

For Gus Poyet it is a major call to decide whether Brown plays and he will spend this morning’s training session monitoring his fitness closely. But if there is any chance of him being involved, he will surely continue to shore up Sunderland’s back-line.

The Black Cats boss said: “Yes, he has chance for Sunday. When you haven’t played that much and then you play 45 minutes nine versus 11 and then three or four days later, you play 90 minutes at this level, it is not easy.

Wes Brown of Sunderland
Wes Brown of Sunderland
 

“The only thing you need to check is how he recovers. The following two days after the game is the key ones to see if the player is going to be alright or if he has some problems.

“I’ve seen him this morning and he trained and feels fine so it is a perfect situation for us.

“For some reason, everything came together at the time that I arrived here.

“He was not training every day but then he was training every day.

“He found it easier and then asked to play a couple of games for the reserves behind closed doors. Then he was putting himself on the line for us to pick him.

“Then he started on the bench and everyone knows we went down to nine and we changed the shape and he went in. Now it is up to him to stay there and stay fit and help us to get out of this situation.”

O’Shea is urging Sunderland to believe ahead of a critical fixture with Manchester City tomorrow. The club are five points shy of safety.

He said: “It can be done. The last couple of games have been interesting they have scored a few goals and looked like they are going to be title contenders. The squad they have it will be interesting if they make one or two changes again but they have some good players but on the day we will see what happens.

“We have won our last two homes games, disappointing obviously at Hull, but we can take credit for the second half where we clung on and kept it at 1-0 and could have nicked a draw at the end with Jonno’s chance.

“But we are going into a game where we need the points and City will be thinking the same if they want to win the league and we want points to stay in the league.

“It is so vital we start climbing the table and we are hoping to get something at Hull, we didn’t and you move on to the game, we beat Southampton and yes they changed a lot of their players but they are so well drilled with their system that it should have been more comfortable than it was for the last few minutes but hopefully a clean sheet is not too far away.

“We have played quite well at home, if you think of the Liverpool and United games in particular, we should have been two or three up on United at half-time and we know that. We are not playing too badly and beating Newcastle as well, you’d take that and beating Southampton.”

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