Martin O'Neill

MON on Boro reunion

by Stuart Vose

Boss preparing to face Teessiders for third time in 2012.

Martin O’Neill wants to bring cup magic back to the Stadium of Light as he prepares to face Middlesbrough in the Wear-Tees derby.

The two sides go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup this evening (KO 7.45pm) with a place in the last eight  the reward for the winners.

Sunderland saw off Morecambe and MK Dons to set up a local derby against a Boro side who have toppled Bury, Gillingham and Preston during their cup run.

Speaking ahead of tonight’s game, O’Neill said: “The game offers the chance to reach the quarter-finals of the competition, which in itself should be a big incentive for both teams.

“Then you’ve got the fact that it’s a derby game. Of course we’d like to progress.

“I remember the Everton game in the cup last year. Although it was very disappointing, the atmosphere that evening [was exceptional] and that’s something we’d like to experience a bit more often.

“The cup matches provide that possibility.”

O’Neill is already more than familiar with Tony Mowbray’s side having faced the Teessiders twice last season in the FA Cup with Budweiser.

The Black Cats eventually prevailed 2-1 in a replay following a hotly-contested draw on Wearside.

Boro have started the season in excellent form and have won each of their last four league outings.

They sit third in the Npower Championship and O’Neill isn’t one bit surprised to see Mowbray’s men launching an early bid for promotion back to the top flight.

“I’m not saying you can make a lot of decisions based on two games last season, but those matches were very difficult for us," he explained.

“They played exceptionally well on both occasions and I’m not surprised to see them up there this time around.

“They have good capabilities - a bit of firepower and creativity – in their side.”

Meanwhile O’Neill is looking for more attacking output from his side and believes the goals will soon start to flow.

“It’s very important for us to try to score more goals and give ourselves a better chance rather than relying on the defence,” he said.

“Overall I feel we’re capable of doing it and I’m hoping those words will come true in the not too distant future.”