Martin O'Neill

Boss's weekend preview

by Stuart Vose

O'Neill says side must marshal confident Reading.

Martin O’Neill says Sunderland must act decisively on Saturday to counteract a Reading side with belief coursing through their veins.

Brian McDermott’s side climbed out of the relegation zone in midweek after coming back from 2-0 down to claim a late, late point against Chelsea.

Now Sunderland head to the Madejski Stadium this weekend to face a Reading outfit energized by their last-gasp showing, powered by two goals from Adam Le Fondre.

“It was a big, big result and they’ve got some amazing ones recently, pulling games out of the fire when they looked beaten,” O’Neill said.

“Wednesday is a case in point. Reading never give up and it will be a difficult task for us.

“Hopefully we can return to the form we showed against Wigan, which wasn’t so long ago.”

O’Neill felt his side were too “stop-start” against Swansea in midweek and immediately challenged his players to produce a response in his post-match interview.

“That’s still uppermost in my mind and I think we’re capable of doing that,” he continued.

“I was disappointed because we’d had a little bit of time off and I thought one thing we would be was fresh and energetic.

“When the game didn’t start so brilliantly we lost a little bit of confidence, which shouldn’t really be happening now.”

Sunderland’s 3-0 win over Reading at the Stadium of Light back in December was the springboard for an excellent run of form which has seen them rise to 11th in the Barclays Premier League.

The Royals, meanwhile, have fortified their bid for survival with a string of fine performances and are now unbeaten in their last five outings.

“That [win over Reading] was a big, big result for us,” O'Neill said. “To win 3-0 that night was terrific for us.

“Reading, of course, were pretty despondent afterwards but their win over West Bromwich Albion [in mid-January] was remarkable, coming back from two goals down to win the game late on.

“That gave them great confidence to keep going and they will feel as if they can get out of trouble.

“In the bottom half of the table every one of us is chasing those elusive results. I’m hoping we can put a proper performance together.”