O'Neill delighted by Campbell's smiling return
Martin O'Neill paid a glowing tribute to Fraizer Campbell after the forward emerged from an 17-month injury nightmare that threatened his career to earn Sunderland a replay against neighbours Middlesbrough.
Campbell was recovering from an operation on his anterior cruciate ligament when he suffered the same injury, breaking down in training in April last year. He was forced back under the knife and his appearance yesterday as a second-half substitute was his first since August 2010. Such has been his attitude during that bleak period that the Sunderland physio, Dave Galley, said he had never helped a player with a more positive spirit during such a length of recovery. For O'Neill the player's return kept his Sunderland side in the FA Cup.
"I'm really delighted for him," O'Neill said. "I think everyone is around here, it is hard not to be after what he has been through. I think it was his first or second touch when he scored. He gave us something extra.
"Our phsyio tells me he may well be the best of the lot in terms of never being down, after the injury. To get the same injury again, you thought it might be it. He knuckled down again. He does always a smile on his face, he's in there and he gives everyone a lift around the football club."
Campbell himself added: "Personally I'm delighted to be back out there. I can't put it into words. It's been a tough 18 months. Hopefully I can get some fitness back and do what I do. I'm sure we will take a load of fans there [at the replay at the Riverside] and make it a good atmosphere."
Barry Robson had put Middlesbrough ahead after just 16 minutes. His mistake however, just before the hour mark, sent Sunderland away for their equaliser.
"It is a pass you make nine times out of 10, but it bounced up and went to their player," he said. "That's football. A few players in our team have played at a higher level. We have to prove we can get there. It is bitter-sweet because of the pass. It is a simple task like that to pass the ball back. That happens. It's football and we move on."
The Middlesbrough manager, Tony Mowbray, added: "We could have lost heart after the equaliser but we pushed on and if anything, the dressing room is disappointed.
"We have to put it into perspective. We've played a team that has beaten Manchester City and Swansea and probably is the form team in the Premier League."
O'Neill confirmed he will make a renewed attempt to sign striker Kevin Davies from Bolton. "I have made an enquiry and Owen [Coyle] would want to try and keep him but wouldn't stand in his way. I may well follow that up tomorrow morning."
Latest in Sport
Arsenal have no plans to stock Petr Cech inspired caps in club shops - yet
Petr Cech blasts Chelsea supporters who sent him death threats after £11m Arsenal transfer: 'They are not true fans'
Nathaniel Clyne joins Liverpool: Transfer news live - Arda Turan decision, Petr Cech reaction, Sergio Ramos to Manchester United
Christian Benteke to Liverpool: Aston Villa striker ready to reject Tottenham
Arda Turan announcement expected on Friday: Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United possible destinations
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Greece crisis: Alexis Tsipras accepts troika bailout proposals with conditions
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS