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Martin O'Neill

Leicester return delights O'Neill

by Stuart Vose

Boss excited by return to former club.

Martin O'Neill will make an emotional return to a club he loves when Sunderland travel to Leicester City this weekend.

The Black Cats boss spent four and a half years in charge in the Midlands between 1995 and 2000, winning promotion to the top flight plus two League Cups.

He went on to boss Celtic and Aston Villa before joining Sunderland last December.

O'Neill is beginning his first full season in charge on Wearside, with Saturday's trip to the King Power Stadium his last friendly before the big kick-off at Arsenal.

And he's looking forward to seeing some old faces even though his old stomping ground - Filbert Street - is long gone.

"I loved it at Leicester City," O'Neill said. "The start wasn't all that brilliant - in fact it was pretty poor - but we turned things round and it worked out well.

"I will always have fond memories of Leicester. I had a great time and made a lot of friends at the club. Some of them are still there and hopefully I will be able to meet up with them before the game.

"They are another great club with possibly even bigger potential than I thought because I was involved at the old Filbert Street.

"It was dilapidated but really it was a great, great ground."

City finished nine points outside the play-offs in the Npower Championship last season, eventually ending the season in ninth position.

They are shaping up for a run at promotion this term under manager Nigel Pearson and O'Neill believes the Foxes could well be successful.

"Leicester will do well," he said. "They have a good squad, a good manager and ambition. The owners really want to press on and achieve promotion this year."