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O'Neill tells Sunderland strikers to keep on playing
DESPITE failing to score in any of the last four matches, Danny Graham and Steven Fletcher have been told to carry on together in the hope they can lead Sunderland to a revival.
Graham's arrival from Swansea City has failed to have the immediate impact that Martin O'Neill had been looking for. While the 27-year-old has performed reasonably well, he has not found the net in his two starts and two substitute appearances.
But it has only been in Sunderland's last two matches that the Gateshead-born front-man has been paired with the club's leading goalscorer, Fletcher, in attack.
O'Neill, despite the defeat at West Brom and a draw with Fulham, has seen enough in those two outings to suggest that his team is better off for having the two strikers in attack.
The Black Cats boss said: "It would be great if we'd won the first couple of matches and they got a goal apiece or something like that. I think it can work. We've made some changes and you'd have to say at this moment it's reinvigorated us."
Playing the pair of them up front has meant Stephane Sessegnon has been switched to the right. He said: "He's attacking from different angles. His best position may still be just off the centre-forward but at the minute he's enjoying himself immensely, so we'll see what happens."
O'Neill could improve his attacking options after this weekend by not extending Connor Wickham's one-month loan at Sheffield Wednesday, but he admits to be no nearer to knowing how long skipper Lee Cattermole will be missing.
Cattermole's long-standing knee complaint continues to cause concern and he is being monitored closely by the club and a specialist. His latest comeback attempt only lasted 45 minutes of Sunderland's 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on February 9.
O'Neill said: "Lee went to see the specialist a week ago. He gave him an injection hoping to settle things down. All in all the process between the injection and a wee bit of rest and then starting to work again should be two to three weeks. We're hoping that will be good enough. Otherwise if it' not, it might be something a wee bit more radical. We'll see how it goes.
"He hasn't started back training with us, I think we'll be in a better position to see how he reacts after this injection. The specialist has been encouraged that it might work.
"It's been a frustrating time for him and if you'd said to me at the start of the year would we play the amount of games we have without him, I'd have been concerned."