MARTIN O’Neill has tipped a fired-up Stephane Sessegnon to take out his early-season frustrations on West Ham United.
Subdued Sessegnon has been below-par in the early weeks of the campaign, barely a shadow of the player who led top-flight defences a merry dance last term.
That led O’Neill to throw down the gauntlet to the under-performing forward in the wake of the Liverpool draw, warning him the mitigation of a lack of a pre-season would only stack up for so long.
Happily for Sunderland supporters, O’Neill has seen signs the old Sessegnon is back – with a bit of prompting from the club’s mischievous manager.
The Black Cats boss took charge of a midweek training match and refused to give the Benin forward any decisions in an effort to have the fire burning in his eyes again.
O’Neill said: “On Tuesday we did some training and I was refereeing the game.
“I really irritated him because I didn’t give him one foul even though he was fouled four times. I really got his temper up, if nothing else.
“He’ll be fine. He hadn’t had a great pre-season with one or two issues but over time he’ll return to his top form again.
“He was frustrated with himself at the weekend, but in time he’ll be fine.
“I suppose you would want him to be angry. Stephane gives you the impression he’s laid back but he’s actually far from it.
“Back in January I’d have thought that was exactly it. He’s actually not as laid back as you think.”
Sunderland head to East London with O’Neill admitting that they are playing “catch up” with the rest of the league after the unfortunate postponement of the Reading game.