Martin O'Neill

Players are ready - O'Neill

by Stuart Vose

Squad all set to go again, says boss.

 Martin O’Neill says his squad are raring to go once again as they prepare to meet in-form Spurs on Wearside.

Andre Villas-Boas’ side head north following a fine 4-0 win at Aston Villa – their third clean sheet in a row.

Only Manchester United have taken more points than the White Hart Lane club over the last six games, but Sunderland head into Saturday’s fixture on a high of their own.

The Black Cats saw off champions Manchester City on Boxing Day thanks to Adam Johnson’s goal, and O’Neill feels his players are ready for a second outing in four days.

“We’re thrilled to have won the [City] game – it was a tough one but we created some great chances and could have won it with something in hand at the end,” he explained.

“That’s despite their manager saying we were lucky – I didn’t see that at all.

“The result gives us great heart going into a difficult period. We’ve done very well to get points on the board pre-Christmas and on Boxing Day.

“We saw Tottenham the other day playing brilliantly with some free-flowing football; looking to score at every opportunity.

“It will be a tough game for us but the players are ready for it and in great heart.”

Spurs are the only side to have scored in all of their away league games so far, netting 20 times on the road.

Gareth Bale has been leading the way, with a hat-trick at Villa Park taking his tally to seven goals in his last seven games.

 “Gareth is a fantastic footballer who has improved immensely over the last couple of years,” O’Neill said.

“His exploits in the Champions League have shown he can produce at any given level at all, and he’s a terrific player.”

Meanwhile, the Sunderland manager says it’s vital his side have time to switch off in the midst of a busy festive period.

And his sole focus is on valuable league points having seen his charges win three of their last four games.

“We must try to get as much rest as possible,” O'Neill explained. “Any of the teams with smaller squads find the games come thick and fast – there’s basically no respite.

“If players want to play and you feel you’re not going to do any damage in terms of some sort of injury, I don’t think you can look much further than the following game.

“We need points on the board. League position doesn’t really matter to me – I’ve said that before – and it’s about points on the board.

“When you have those everything else takes care of itself.”