'He’s a man we’ll have to keep an eye on.'
John O'Shea has warned Sunderland to beware of former Manchester United colleague Dimitar Berbatov – a player he knows better than most.
He’s got the silky touches to go with it as well; he’ll be linking up a lot of their play and we’ll definitely have to keep an eye on him.
- John O'Shea
O'Shea spent three seasons playing alongside Berbatov in the north west and says the frontman's technical ability and finishing prowess make him a clear threat.
The Bulgarian has established himself as a huge Fulham favourite since departing Old Trafford in the summer and has scored nine goals so far this season.
However, he won't fall into the trap of focusing on one man in the face of the visitors' multiple attacking threats.
“He [Berbatov] is a fantastic player and everyone knows the quality that he has, you see with the technique he showed for the volley against Stoke – he’s a man we’ll have to keep an eye on,” the defender said.
“He’ll be the player Fulham will play most balls to and go through mostly, but they've still got other players who can pose a threat.”
O'Shea added: “He’s got literally everything to his game - power and strength that maybe people don’t associate as much with him.
“He’s got the silky touches to go with it as well; he’ll be linking up a lot of their play and we’ll definitely have to keep an eye on him.”
Veteran boss Martin Jol has guided the Cottagers into a comfortable mid-table position, with seven points taken from the London club's last four games.
And the fact that Jol has overseen a recent upturn in form comes as no surprise to O'Shea, who says a quick start by his side would be a huge boon against a well-drilled visiting outfit.
“I think as always has been the case with Fulham over the years, their home form is their main asset and they’ve a very experienced team as well and an experienced manager as well,” he said.
“They’ll know they’ve got a tough game coming up to the Stadium of Light but they’ll also be confident that they can cause us problems – that’s something we’re going to have to cope with and make sure we can keep them under long spells of pressure.
“Hopefully we can go ahead in the game rather than having to fight back.
“We have to win our home games, especially – Fulham are on the back of a good home win against Stoke, but Stoke missed a penalty during the game as well.
“But we know with the likes of Berbatov, [Bryan] Ruiz, and [Damien] Duff that they’ve got good attacking players and we’ll have to be on our guard.”