Martin O'Neill

Boss on Wigan mission

by Stuart Vose

O’Neill talks Wigan, travelling fans and new signings.

Martin O’Neill is hoping to see Sunderland’s recent league progress continue as the Black Cats travel to Wigan tomorrow.

O’Neill’s side have won three of their last five outings in the Barclays Premier League, including a 3-0 victory over West Ham last weekend.

The club exited the FA Cup with Budweiser at the hands of Bolton in midweek and O’Neill is targeting a return to winning ways as the league programme resumes once more.

Mangane is short of fitness at the moment and that’s something we’ll have to monitor over the next week or two

- Martin O'Neill

But the Stadium of Light chief has warned that his side must expect tough resistance from a Wigan outfit who are traditionally stronger over the latter stages of the campaign.

“We need points on the board; we were decent over Christmas so hopefully we can continue that upward trend,” he said.

“Wigan can play any team and get a result and you wouldn’t be surprised.

“They play some very decent football and you often wonder why they find themselves maybe in a spot of bother.

“They always pull themselves round. Their run at the back end of last season was fantastic.”

O’Neill’s search for points will be assisted by another strong travelling support, with almost 5,000 visiting fans set to pack out the away section at the DW Stadium.

“The support we’ve received has been absolutely magnificent,” O’Neill added.

“It’s tough. There’s a recession on and it’s been very difficult to find the money to go home and away in recent times.”

Meanwhile O’Neill has boosted his squad with two January signings.

Alfred N’Diaye and Kader Mangane are settling into life on Wearside and O’Neill says it’s important they be afforded time to adjust both mentally and physically.

“Young N’Diaye has not played in the Barclays Premier League before but already has a lot of experience at 22 years old,” he explained.

He’s played in Europe in the Europa League but this is a different issue in terms of coming in.

“In the case of Mangane, he’s short of fitness at the moment and that’s something we’ll have to monitor over the next week or two.”