O'Neill backs new boys to shine
Martin O'Neill admits the big-money additions made to his Sunderland squad are purely 'potential' at the moment, but is backing them to produce the goods.
Last Updated: 31/08/12 2:29pm
Martin O'Neill admits the big-money additions made to his Sunderland squad are purely 'potential' at the moment, but is tipping them to produce the goods.
The Black Cats boss has been well backed by owner Ellis Short once again during the summer transfer window, with deals for Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher costing the club well over £20million.
Sunderland moved for the pair in an effort to increase their goal threat, with Johnson set to provide the ammunition from the flanks and Fletcher the predatory instincts in the final third.
Both will need time to settle into new surroundings and a new team but O'Neill, who has dipped back into the market on deadline day to bring in Danny Rose on loan, is confident his fresh faces will soon be firing on all cylinders.
He said: "At the moment, you would have to say it's still potential because we have still to go and prove that we are capable of scoring goals in the big league.
"I think we are. We have got some alternatives, we can attack from different areas of the field and that's all very, very encouraging.
"Of course, you need players to stay fit, but if they did do, I think we can cause problems."
Johnson is likely to be handed his Premier League bow for the Black Cats at Swansea on Saturday, and Fletcher could also be involved at the Liberty Stadium.
The Scotland international is some way short of full match sharpness after becoming embroiled in a summer-long transfer saga, but O'Neill believes a Capital One Cup run-out against Morecambe in midweek proves the striker is capable of starting games.
He said: "The length of time he was on the field the other day gives him that extra bit of match fitness, getting used to the surroundings, getting used to the players we have at the football club.
"And of course, he is training on a daily basis as well, so I am pretty happy.
"Whether he is able to last games or not is another issue, but I am sure he would want to start in the team if it's at all possible."