Bendtner reveals he can't see in his mask… but it hasn't stopped him scoring
21:30 GMT, 26 March 2012
After scoring three goals in five games in the mask which is protecting his broken nose, Nicklas Bendtner must be tempted to wear the specially-designed headwear permanently.
Bendtner, who faces Everton at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday, scored a powerful header in Saturday's 3-1 win over QPR. It was his sixth goal since moving temporarily to Wearside and made all the more miraculous by Bendtner's impaired vision.
'I think it was the first header on target I have had wearing the mask,' he said. 'But it didn't hurt, in fact it was all right.' And the on-loan Arsenal striker has revealed he can hardly see in the mask during games and he cannot wait to lose it.
Masked raider: Nicklas Bendtner scores against Queens Park Rangers
Bendtner said: 'I will be wearing it on Tuesday and then taking it off for Saturday. I can't even see with it on. I give the ball away because I can't see sometimes. It's not good because sometimes if you see a run, your eye disappears in the mask so you are seeing out of the eye that you can't see the run. It's difficult.
'But it's nice now that I'm scoring a few goals. Obviously I have been a bit disappointed with a few draws that could have gone our way. But we got back to winning ways on Saturday and that is the main thing.
'To try to help the team win is what you really want to do. If my goals helps then great. I'm happy and everyone else is happy.'
Bendtner's trouble with his vision will not come as a surprise to Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill who has been ridiculing the number of logos, stickers and flags on the mask for weeks.
'Why does he wear it then' he asked, shaking his head. 'It must be the logos and the Danish flags, or the number of women he'd liked to have been out with. We'll take him to Cheltenham next year,' he joked.
Flying high: Bendtner has scored three goals in his last five games for Sunderland
Bendtner's 80,000-a-week wages put him way beyond anything that Sunderland and O'Neill can, and would even want to afford after his loan spell. And the Dane, who is likely to be told he can leave Arsenal in June, recognises the FA Cup is his opportunity to leave Sunderland with a medal, if not a new contract.
'It's not as easy as me deciding,' Bendtner said. 'I have got two years left at Arsenal and I don't know what will happen after the summer.
'I am here at the club right now, we have a good team, a good manager and good staff. It could end on a real high, with us just being a game away from Wembley. It would be great if we can keep going until the end of the season and finish on a high.'
O'Neill, who will welcome back captain Lee Cattermole from his four-match suspension, also appreciates the cup run is an opportunity to put smiles on faces among the Sunderland faithful.
This is the furthest they have been in the FA Cup since Mick McCarthy led them to semi-final defeat at Old Trafford eight years ago and O'Neill's impact on his side is drawing comparisons with Bob Stokoe's success in 1973.
Sunderland expect a near sell-out, with more than 6,000 Everton fans making the journey, and he is anticipating a 'special night'.
Nervy times: Martin O'Neill hopes to lead Sunderland into the semi-finals
He added: 'I think there's something pretty special about it when you get to this stage of the competition. I think you can get caught up in the atmosphere, I don't think there is anything wrong with that.
'We want to try and get through, the fans have been excited about it. You can try and say it's just another game, but I'm not so sure it is. It's pretty special.
'If you had said to me back in December you'll have 40 points at the end of the season I would have gladly taken it, so to have 40 points in March and to have a chance of reaching the semi-final of the FA Cup, is wonderful.
'To have eight games to go and have a chance to add even more points to the board, to be the in the quarter-final, I'm really enjoying it. I might as well enjoy it because there will be days when I can't.'
Sunderland (probable 4-4-1-1): Mignolet; Bardsley, Kyrgiakos, Turner, Bridge; Larsson, Gardner, Cattermole, McClean; Sessegnon; Bendtner.
TV: Live on ITV 1 from 7.30pm.