Tag Archives: sessegnon

Martin O"Neill in charge at Sunderland for year but little to celebrate

Sunderland's plight leaves O'Neill little to celebrate on first anniversary in charge

|

UPDATED:

12:41 GMT, 3 December 2012

Martin O’Neill 'celebrates' a year in charge at Sunderland today.

But there is not much to cheer on Wearside. His team are a point off the relegation zone, have a shocking record since the turn of the year and, even with their game in hand at home to Reading to come, are starting to look down rather than up.

The rumours about his alleged demise may have stopped but O’Neill has yet to provide the compelling evidence after a rollercoaster first 12 months that he should remain Sunderland manager.

He has admitted his team are in a relegation fight. And he is right.

Unhappy anniversary: Martin O'Neill saw his Sunderland side crash at Norwich on the eve of his first year in charge of the club

Unhappy anniversary: O'Neill saw his Sunderland side crash at Norwich on the eve of his first year in charge

Hands on head: O'Neill reacts after Sunderland go down at Norwich

If you cannot win the winnable games against the likes of Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion at home, and you have Chelsea and Manchester United next, then you can consider yourself in serious trouble.

Their supporters can take little comfort from their latest defeat at Norwich City yesterday, or the concept that they can spend their way out of trouble in January. They signed Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher in the summer for more than 20million and look where that’s got them.

They are not even playing that well. The first half performance at Carrow Road was arguably their most abject yet of a miserable season, the damage done and their second half revival – arguably the best they have played under O’Neill – was too much and too little and too late. The 15 shots on goal in that period is nearly as many as they have managed since kick-off in August.

Key players have still to perform for Sunderland and the visit to Norfolk was another disappointing one for Stephane Sessegnon and James McClean.

Sessegnon appears to take one step forward and one step back in his games and the box of tricks he holds has been firmly shut for most of the season. McClean, sadly, is a shadow of the player who was thrown into the team by O’Neill in his first week.

At least Johnson is starting to steadily improve after far too many anonymous displays for his home-town club, although his choice of targets for assisting is limited.

Yellow peril: Anthony Pilkington celebrates his goal against Sunderland at Carrow Road

Yellow peril: Anthony Pilkington celebrates his goal against Sunderland at Carrow Road

While Sessegnon remains in the team, striker Fletcher has been the central attacking force and Sunderland will be anxiously awaiting news of the injury the Scottish striker sustained at Norwich which forced him to depart at half-time.

O’Neill has persevered with his creative foursome but with mixed results. But the alternatives from the bench clearly don’t inspire much confidence in the manager.

Yesterday turned then to Connor Wickham, who has still scored only one goal for Sunderland since Steve Bruce signed him from Ipswich Town more than a year ago in a deal which could have been as much as 12million on appearances and, well goals.

The fact the Sunderland manager is now relying on a player he has virtually written off since taking over from Bruce – thus ignoring Louis Saha, Fraizer Campbell and Ji-Dong Won – can hardly be reassuring news for supporters preparing to return to the Stadium of Light to mark Chelsea’s visit this weekend.

Bitter blow: Sunderland's Connor Wickham appears dejected after the final whistle at Norwich

Bitter blow: Sunderland's Connor Wickham appears dejected after the final whistle at Norwich

O’Neill’s record so far this season is worse than Bruce’s a year ago. He has also managed to secure just four wins in the last 27 Premier League games.

The longest honeymoon period in the history of football is officially over.

And Martin O’Neill has a job on his hands convincing the supporters, who were so desperate to see him at their club, that he can guide them even further out of the doldrums than they were in the first place.

Owner Ellis Short did not envisage this when he turned to the former Aston Villa boss – although his manager has pointed out that initially at Villa and Leicester he needed time, patience and a little understanding.

He will get that at Sunderland. And this is a club which needs stability, patience in the manager and a belief that they have found the right man for the job. Because they have.

But he needs to start winning some matches too.

West Brom success down to squad rotation

Clarke puts stunning West Brom success story down to squad rotation

|

UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 25 November 2012

West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Clarke has put his side’s success down to the way his players have taken to his rotation system.

The Baggies are up to third in the Premier League but Clarke is trying to keep his players grounded.

'I’m mildly happy,’ he said with half a smile after his side's win over Sunderland.

Party time: West Brom climbed to third with their win over Sunderland

Party time: West Brom climbed to third with their win over Sunderland

Boaz Myhill narrowly survived three scares before goals from Zoltan Gera, Shane Long, Romelu Lukaku and Marc-Antoine Fortune scored to give West Brom their fourth successive top flight win for the first time since 1982.

Goals from Craig Gardner and Stephane Sessegnon gave Sunderland brief hope, and a rally, but the visitors were good value for their win.

Clarke said: 'I said at the start I was happy with the squad and only thing I said to them was they should be comfortable in the Premier League after two seasons finishing mid-table. The only way to build on that is with better performances and we have.

'I just try to use the squad the best I can to get the best out of them. They have bought into what I am trying to do and that is really important.

Main man: Shane Long continued his fine form with a goal on Saturday

Main man: Shane Long continued his fine form with a goal on Saturday

'The game now is not about 11 players now, it is about your squad. The stronger your squad, the more chance you have of winning games in the Premier League. I turn round, look at the bench and want to make changes. I am always really happy with what I see.

'I am never satisfied. If we get to our target of 50 points in March, I will go for another target. But the philosophy we have and the way we have worked is to build game to game and we look no further.’

And while Clarke may have praise for the collective effort from all his players, he rightly singled out Long and Gera for their contribution to an impressive away win, which made up for the undeserved defeat at Newcastle earlier in the month.

In charge: Steve Clarke

In charge: Steve Clarke

He added: 'Zoltan has been terrific all season. He had a career-threatening injury, it took him a long time to get over it and we nursed him through it to protect him.

He is at the stage of his career where you can’t play him in every game because that would be detrimental to him. He accepts that fact and you see the quality of the guy’s performances. He is always for me one of the better players.

'I speak about Shane every week, whether he plays 70 or 60 minutes or comes on for 20. I have run out for superlatives for him, he has been tremendous every week.

'But he also has Lukaku sitting on his tail which keeps him lively. As well as Marc-Antoine and Marcus Rosenborg, who didn’t get on the pitch, we have Peter Odemwingie who has found another level. So there is great competition for the front places and Shane is a big part of that.’

Stephane Sessegnon was distracted by transfer rumours, says Martin O"Neill

Sessegnon was distracted by transfer rumours but he's getting back to his best, says O'Neill

|

UPDATED:

19:42 GMT, 22 November 2012

Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill believes Stephane Sessegnon was affected by rumours of a move away from the north east, despite signing a new contract in the summer.

The Benin international scored his first goal of the season in last week’s 3-1 win at Fulham and finally started to show the ability which made him the club’s player of last season.

O’Neill, who has persevered with the midfielder despite his alarming loss of form, believes Sessegnon, and England winger Adam Johnson are now starting to repay his faith. But he admitted Sessegnon’s indifferent start to this season had been perplexing for player and manager.

Back to his best: Stephane Sessegnon is regaining his form

Back to his best: Stephane Sessegnon is regaining his form

O’Neill said: 'He was somewhat sidelined by being touted around major football clubs.

'The view was that he may not be at this football club because some of the major clubs from abroad would be in for him. It didn’t happen and at that stage, I think there was a bit of disappointment on his part. He did get a little sidetracked by all the furore that surrounded him.

'If your head does get turned by possible promises of being taken, here, there and everywhere, and it doesn’t materialise, maybe it sets you back a bit.

'Also his family was a bit unsettled but we have resolved that now and hopefully we are seeing signs of returning to form. He has come back, signed a contract and he wants to go and prove himself again.

'Overall he is a danger and it is really very good to see him back to form. In training you would not believe he would be suffering any sort confidence loss.’

Former Paris Saint Germain ace Sessegnon, who is currently enjoying his longest run at a single club, was linked with a summer return to the French capital, as well as attracting interest from Tottenham and Arsenal, before they signed Santi Cazorla in a 15million deal from Malaga.

Wanderlust: The much-travelled Sessegnon appears content on Wearside

Wanderlust: The much-travelled Sessegnon (right) appears content on Wearside

O’Neill sees many comparisons with the Spanish midfielder who has lit up the Premier League since his summer arrival.

He added: 'Cazorla is really a fantastic player. Players like him are a necessity, not a luxury.

'Sess has ability to sit in that bracket and the natural talent to be in there but more consistency would be great. There was little period last year when he was at the edge of penalty area when you always felt something might happen.

'This year he has been bit frustrated with his own decision making more than anything else but the game against Everton in the first half, and that goal at Fulham, should give him that boost now.

'What I would say is that Sess playing well is so, so important for us because he can cause problems and he makes other teams start to think about it.’

Fulham 1 Sunderland 3 – match report

Fulham 1 Sunderland 3: Black Cats punish 10-man hosts with second-half treble

|

UPDATED:

17:52 GMT, 18 November 2012

Sunderland picked up their first win since late September as they threw off the shackles to down 10-man Fulham at Craven Cottage.

The Black Cats have been the division's most lacklustre in front of goal this season, but scored three times in 20 second-half minutes to punish their hosts.

Fulham captain Brede Hangeland was sent off in the first-half for a reckless lunge on opposite number Lee Cattermole, making anything other than a draw a big ask for Martin Jol's team.

And so it proved. Steven Fletcher grabbed the first five minutes after the break, but substitue Mladen Petric levelled things up seven minutes later from close range.

However, it was Sunderland who reacted the best, taking the lead through Carlos Cuellar, and adding a spectacular third through Stephane Sessegnon's first goal of the season.

More to follow…

On song: Sunderland ended a winless run dating back to September after Brede Hangeland was sent off

On song: Sunderland ended a winless run dating back to September after Brede Hangeland was sent off

On song: Sunderland ended a winless run dating back to September after Brede Hangeland was sent off

MATCH FACTS

FULHAM: Schwarzer, Riise, Hangeland, Hughes, Riether, Sidwell, Karagounis (Senderos 35), Duff, Kacaniklic (Rodallega 27), Berbatov, Ruiz (Petric 59). Subs not used: Stockdale, Kelly, Smith, Dejagah,

Booked: Sidwell

Sent off: Hangeland 31

Goal: Petric 62

SUNDERLAND: Mignolet, Bardsley, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Cattermole, Larsson (McClean 70), Colback (Vaughan 79), Johnson, Sessegnon, Fletcher. Subs not used: Westwood, Kilgallon, McClean, Campbell, Wickham, Saha

Booked: O'Shea, Johnson

Goals: Fletcher 50, Cuellar 65, Sessegnon 70

Click here for the latest Premier League table, fixtures and results

XX

Classy: Steven Fletcher got the ball rolling with a brilliantly taken strike early in the second half

Classy: Steven Fletcher got the ball rolling with a brilliantly taken strike early in the second half

Classy: Steven Fletcher got the ball rolling with a brilliantly taken strike early in the second half

Back in it: Mladen Petric responded quickly for Fulham, and suffered a cut on his leg as a result

Back in it: Mladen Petric responded quickly for Fulham, and suffered a cut on his leg as a result

Back in it: Mladen Petric responded quickly for Fulham, and suffered a cut on his leg as a result

Back in it: Mladen Petric responded quickly for Fulham, and suffered a cut on his leg as a result

Paul Lambert backs Martin O"Neill to end Sunderland slump

Lambert backs O'Neill to end slump after Villa overrun Black Cats

|

UPDATED:

18:53 GMT, 3 November 2012

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert backed Sunderland counterpart Martin O'Neill to get it right after inflicting a demoralising defeat on his side.

The Scot, who still refers to the Ulsterman as 'the Gaffer' after their time together at Celtic, was a happy man after seeing Villa claim just their second Barclays Premier League win of the season with a 1-0 victory at the Stadium of Light.

Winner: Gabriel Agbonlahor scores the only goal of the game as Aston Villa beat Sunderland

Winner: Gabriel Agbonlahor scores the only goal of the game as Aston Villa beat Sunderland

In the process, he piled further
pressure on O'Neill, whose team have now won only one of its last 17
league games and managed just a single notable effort on target.

However, Lambert is convinced the former Villa manager will turn things around on Wearside.

He said: 'It's a tough, tough job, it really is a tough job. But if there's one person who will turn it around, it will be him.

'I have got the utmost respect for the Gaffer. I am not in a position to sit here and say I have got one over him or anything.

'It's a game of football I had to win and Aston Villa had to win, and we did it. It's a good three points.'

In a contest between two sides who
have found the going difficult in recent weeks, one goal was always
likely to be enough to claim the points, and it was Villa who snatched
the advantage 12 minutes after the break.

Christian Benteke, who had caused
problems all afternoon, climbed above Phil Bardsley at the back post to
head down Matt Lowton's cross and Gabriel Agbonlahor pounced to volley
into the roof of the net from close range.

Eyes on the ball: Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon and Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood battle for the ball

Eyes on the ball: Sunderland's Stephane Sessegnon and Aston Villa's Ashley Westwood battle for the ball

It was scarcely more than the
visitors deserved after largely containing their hosts throughout, and
it was telling that the man who came closest to registering for the
Black Cats was skipper Lee Cattermole, who has never scored for the
club.

Cattermole's 84th minute effort was
Sunderland's only serious attempt on goal on another frustrating
afternoon for O'Neill's men.

Lambert, who had to withdraw
left-back Joe Bennett after just 11 minutes and then saw replacement
Eric Lichaj limp off 19 minutes from time, said: 'I thought we deserved
it.

Chance: Sunderland's Louis Saha heads wide as the home side fall to defeat

Chance: Sunderland's Louis Saha heads wide as the home side fall to defeat

'I thought we were excellent today
considering the knockbacks we took with the left-backs and Ashley
[Westwood] making his debut. I thought we were excellent.'

Benteke in particular caught the eye
with a powerful display which left Sunderland bruised and battered and
his manager searching for superlatives.

Lambert said: '”He could be anything he wants. He could be one hell of a player.

Gutted: Saha is stunned after failing to hit the target with his header

Gutted: Saha is stunned after failing to hit the target with his header

'I have always said he is playing in a Belgian national team at the minute that is top class, and he is in there on merit.

'He is playing extremely well and since he has come to this football club, he has been a revelation for us.'

O'Neill was still able to take
positives despite hearing his players booed from the pitch for the
second time in five days, but admitted the responsibility for finding a
solution lies with him.

Tussle: Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj fight for the ball

Tussle: Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson and Aston Villa's Eric Lichaj fight for the ball

He said: 'It's me, I'm the manager, I'm the manager of the football club, absolutely.

'Yes, it's difficult, it's been a difficult week for us, obviously, losing against Middlesbrough and then not scoring here.

'It's been a difficult week, but we will come through.

Happy days: Villa celebrate their narrow win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

Happy days: Villa celebrate their narrow win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

'We threw just about everything at them to try to get on the scoresheet, but it eluded us today again. But it will turn.'

The Black Cats thought they should
have been awarded a second half penalty for handball against Benteke,
but referee Mike Jones was not impressed, to O'Neill's obvious surprise.

He'll get it right: Martin O'Neill (right) receives the backing of Paul Lambert (left)

He'll get it right: Martin O'Neill (right) receives the backing of Paul Lambert (left)

He said: 'All the players around said it was a penalty. The referee has chosen not to give it, that's his prerogative.

'Interestingly, we did have a meeting
at the beginning of the season where referees came to speak to us to
tell us that if you have your arms in the air, even it's to avoid
something hitting your face, then there's the likelihood that they will
be giving a penalty.

'It wasn't today.'

Sunderland 1 Newcastle 1: Match report

Sunderland 1 Newcastle 1: Ba scores at wrong end to hand Mackems last-gasp draw

|

UPDATED:

14:46 GMT, 21 October 2012

Demba Ba's own goal denied 10-man Newcastle derby victory at Sunderland on a dramatic afternoon on Wearside.

The Senegal striker could only look on in horror as John O'Shea's 85th-minute header hit him and sailed past helpless keeper Tim Krul.

It was little more than the Black Cats deserved after belatedly making the most of Cheick Tiote's 25th-minute dismissal for a studs-up challenge on Steven Fletcher.

Wrong end: Demba Ba (right) sent the ball past his own goalkeeper to hand Sunderland a point

Wrong end: Demba Ba (right) sent the ball past his own goalkeeper to hand Sunderland a point

Cute finish: Yohan Cabaye put Newcastle ahead after just three minutes

Cute finish: Yohan Cabaye put Newcastle ahead after just three minutes

MATCH FACTS

Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, O'Shea, Cuellar, Rose, Johnson (Vaughan 83), Larsson, Colback, McClean, Sessegnon (Saha 64), Fletcher.

Subs: Westwood, Bardsley, Campbell, Kilgallon, Meyler.

Goals: Ba (og) 85

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini (Steven Taylor 80), Santon, Gutierrez, Cabaye, Tiote, Ben Arfa (Obertan 84), Ba, Shola Ameobi (Perch 39).

Subs: Harper, Anita, Cisse, Ferguson.

Sent Off: Tiote (25).

Booked: Shola Ameobi, Coloccini, Williamson, Cabaye.

Goals: Cabaye 3.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)

Click here for the latest Premier League tables, results and stats

Yohan Cabaye had got the Magpies off
to the perfect start with just three minutes gone and as Sunderland
initially laboured in the search for an equaliser, the visitors held on
to their lead relatively comfortably until a final onslaught.

Sunderland, despite seeing plenty of
the ball, were rarely able to trouble Krul as Adam Johnson, James
McClean and Stephane Sessegnon struggled to provide any meaningful
service for frontman Steven Fletcher.

But although they emerged with a
point, the Black Cats have won only one home league derby since 1980,
and have now tasted victory home or away against their neighbours on
just one occasion in the last 16.

Newcastle left perhaps feeling they
should have been doing so with all the points after staging a brave
rearguard action in which returning skipper Fabricio Coloccini was
superb, but satisfied to have come away with something to show for their
efforts after Tiote's premature departure.

It took less than three minutes for an
eagerly-anticipated encounter to catch fire, although it did so in
painful style for the home fans.

Me Cheick Tiote was sent off by Martin Atkinson midway through the first half at the Stadium of Light

Me Cheick Tiote was sent off by Martin Atkinson midway through the first half at the Stadium of Light

In the mix: Demba Ba (right) battled with the Sunderland defenders in a tense affair

In the mix: Demba Ba (right) battled with the Sunderland defenders in a tense affair

Made up: Martin O'Neill and Alan Pardew (left) shook hands before the match began

Made up: Martin O'Neill and Alan Pardew (left) shook hands before the match began

Hatem Ben Arfa found space down the
right and played the ball in to Ba, whose shot from a tight angle was
blocked by keeper Simon Mignolet at his near post.

However, the Belgium international
could only turn the ball into the path of the fast-arriving Cabaye at
the edge of the box and his low drive was true and powerful and flew
into the back of the net to send the travelling fans behind the goal
into delirious celebrations.

Sunderland's response was immediate
and Mike Williamson had to intervene to prevent Fletcher from reaching
Sebastian Larsson's teasing right-wing cross four minutes later.

But for all the Black Cats were
enjoying the greater share of possession, they lacked penetration and
Krul had to field Larsson's 17th-minute free-kick, but little else.

O'Shea made an important block to keep out Ba's volley seconds later as Newcastle continued to sow the greater threat.

However, the game changed with 25
minutes gone when Newcastle's midfield enforcer Tiote was sent back to
the dressing room after careering into Fletcher.

Referee Martin Atkinson had already
blown for a foul on the Ivorian by Jack Colback, but his momentum
carried him into the Scotland international and as the home fans bayed
for blood, the official produced a red card, much to Tiote's
astonishment.

Sharing the spoils: Newcastle gave up a one-goal lead to hand Sunderland the draw

Sharing the spoils: Newcastle gave up a one-goal lead to hand Sunderland the draw

Top form: Cabaye (left) ran the show for Newcastle in midfield

Top form: Cabaye (left) ran the show for Newcastle in midfield

The visitors temporarily re-organised
by dropping striker Ba into a deeper role, but manager Alan Pardew
eventually introduced James Perch in an attempt to plug the gap with
derby specialist Shola Ameobi reluctantly making way.

In the meantime, Johnson had curled a
left-foot effort high and wide, and full-back Craig Gardner had smashed a
35th-minute free-kick inches wide and seen another effort blocked by
Williamson's backside.

But the Magpies might have increased
their lead four minutes before the break when Coloccini's shot from a
well-worked corner was blocked and Ba acrobatically hooked the ball over
the bar after controlling the rebound.

Sunderland returned in determined mood
and went close within two minutes of the restart when Fletcher headed
across goal from another Larsson cross.

But Newcastle were refusing to sit
back and Mignolet had to pluck a deflected Ba shot out of the air after
Cabaye had found him 25 yards out.

Not today: Ba tried an unsuccessful overhead kick in his bid to get on the scoresheet for Newcastle

Not today: Ba tried an unsuccessful overhead kick in his bid to get on the scoresheet for Newcastle

Latching on: Carlos Cuellar nods the ball out of Ba's reach

Latching on: Carlos Cuellar nods the ball out of Ba's reach

Not pretty: Tiote left Steven Fletcher in a heap after a nasty-looking lunge

Not pretty: Tiote left Steven Fletcher in a heap after a nasty-looking lunge

The home side were once again
dominating possession, but a succession of poor final balls let the
visitors off the hook with the locals growing increasingly restless.

Newcastle were defending deep and
trying to hit their hosts on the break, although as the clock ticked
towards the hour-mark, the traffic was largely one-way.

Coloccini deflected McClean's
64th-minute shot wide seconds before Martin O'Neill withdrew the
ineffectual Sessegnon to send on former Magpies striker Louis Saha with
the temperature rising inside the stadium.

The pressure was mounting all the
time, but with Coloccini and Williamson in commanding form at the back,
Krul continued to enjoy enviable protection.

Newcastle could have increased their
lead nine minutes from time when Cabaye and Ben Arfa staged a lightning
break before the latter fed Ba, whose shot was blocked by O'Shea.

Saha might have levelled seconds
later, but fired into the side-netting from McClean's flick-on, but
redemption was close at hand.

O'Shea met Larsson's deep free-kick
with a header which hit Ba and flew past Krul into the net to allow the
home fans to breathe again.

McClean and Gardner both went close in
a late flurry, but Newcastle saw out time to return to Tyneside the
happier of the two sides, but wondering what might have been.

Stephane Sessegnon signs new Sunderland deal until 2015

Three more years for star man Sessegnon as he signs new Sunderland deal

|

UPDATED:

11:59 GMT, 30 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Stephane Sessegnon handed Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill a huge boost when he signed a three-year contract extension on Thursday.

The deal, which is subject to the 28-year-old Benin international being granted an extended work permit, completes a good seven days for the Black Cats, who swooped for Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher last Friday.

Slippery customer: Stephane Sessegnon is hard to handle

Slippery customer: Stephane Sessegnon is hard to handle

Sessegnon, who joined Sunderland in a
6million switch from Paris St Germain in January 2011, has been linked
with a move away from the Stadium of Light this summer, with his former
club reportedly among his suitors.

The creative attacker was their stand-out man last season, contributing both assists and goals to Martin O'Neill's side.

A club statement said: 'Stephane Sessegnon has signed a contract extension with Sunderland AFC which will keep him at the Stadium of Light until 2015.

'The former Paris Saint Germain star arrived on Wearside 18 months ago, where he became an instant hit with Black Cats fans.

'The Benin International was named as the club's official Player of the Season last year, where he was Sunderland's top goal scorer.

'The contract extension is naturally subject to the player also being granted an extension to his current work permit.'

Phil Bardsley out for several weeks after ankle surgery

Bardsley blow for O'Neill with defender set to miss several weeks after ankle surgery

|

UPDATED:

17:50 GMT, 14 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Sunderland defender Phil Bardsley is set to miss the start of the season after having surgery on an injured ankle.

Bardsley sustained the injury early in pre-season and is set to miss 'a number of weeks'.

Boss Martin O'Neill revealed his defender had already gone under the knife, but was able to deliver better news on injured trio Stephane Sessegnon, Wes Brown and David Vaughan.

Surgery: Phil Bardsley has gone under the knife

Surgery: Phil Bardsley has gone under the knife

'Phil Bardsley has had an operation,' O'Neill said. 'That's a real blow for us.'

Sessegnon returned to training following an ankle complaint on Tuesday at the Academy of Light and O'Neill hopes he will be back in action soon after the Black Cats' opening game away to Arsenal this weekend.

'Stephane has done a little bit of training this morning and hasn't felt any affects,' O'Neill said.

Bad news: Martin O'Neill said it was a blow

Bad news: Martin O'Neill said it was a blow

'He hasn't been able to do that much but in the course of the next few weeks in terms of the sort of fitness level that he can attain, we hope he gets there pretty quickly.

'Wes Brown is feeling a bit better but obviously getting a bit annoyed that injuries have plagued him.

'David Vaughan's making progress and he has had an operation on his side to cure a problem. He's making good progress out there on the training field, but hasn't joined in with us yet.'

Steven Fletcher hands in transfer request at Wolves as Sunderland close in

Fletcher hands in transfer request as Sunderland step up chase for Wolves striker

|

UPDATED:

16:05 GMT, 8 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Sunderland are hoping to clinch a 12million deal for former Scotland striker Steven Fletcher after he handed in a transfer request.

Wolves are considering an improved offer for the 25-year-old which could be worth 15m with add-ons.

Fletcher took to Twitter to tell Wolves fans that he has asked to leave the club.

On the move: Sunderland have agreed fee for Steven Fletcher

On the move: Sunderland have agreed fee for Steven Fletcher

He wrote: 'Just handed in a transfer request just to let the fans know where I am at right now…. #headsgone.'

Fletcher scored 12 goals last season and was the No 1 summer target for Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill, who could be without Stephane Sessegnon for the start of the season.

The Benin midfielder needs a scan on an ankle injured in training.

Sunderland close in on capture of Wolves striker Steven Fletcher

Sunderland close in on capture of Fletcher after agreeing fee with Wolves

|

UPDATED:

19:00 GMT, 7 August 2012

Fantasy football 2012

Sunderland are hoping to clinch a 12million deal for former Scotland striker Steven Fletcher this week.

Wolves have accepted an improved offer for the 25-year-old which could be worth 15m with add-ons.

On the move: Sunderland have agreed fee for Steven Fletcher

On the move: Sunderland have agreed fee for Steven Fletcher

Fletcher scored 12 goals last season and was the No 1 summer target for Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill, who could be without Stephane Sessegnon for the start of the season.

The Benin midfielder needs a scan on an ankle injured in training.