Sunderland prepared for Everton test insists Martin O'Neill

 

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will leave nothing to chance against Everton tonight as he plots a path to Wembley.

The Toffees head into this evening's FA Cup quarter-final replay at the Stadium of Light knowing city rivals Liverpool await the winners at Wembley in the last four.

That would present David Moyes' men with an opportunity to avenge their 3-0 derby drubbing at Anfield four days before the 1-1 draw with the Black Cats at Goodison Park which prompted their trip to Wearside.

However, O'Neill, who has never won the FA Cup either as a player or a manager, is determined to deny Everton that opportunity even if that means extra-time and penalties.

He said: "You have to be prepared for that. It's obviously going to be a very tough evening - I wouldn't expect anything else, and I am hoping that Everton will feel the same.

"You have to try to be prepared as much as you can for every eventuality.

"Penalties are something that are part of the results business now. It has to finish tonight one way or the other, but I am never so sure you are totally prepared for a penalty.

"If you were just practising them on the training pitch - it doesn't mean you shouldn't do, of course, but I am not so sure.

"Nothing - nothing - prepares you for a penalty shoot-out in a big, big game in front of a lot of fans either cheering you on or baying for your blood.

"I have been involved in a few in my time. Some we have won, some we have been beaten.

"Sometimes the players you expect maybe to score a penalty miss it, and other players who you think, 'What's he taking it for?' put it into the net and walk away.

"It's very difficult, and we will try to get ourselves prepared for that moment if it arrives."

Both sides head into the cup showdown full of confidence after the Black Cats enjoyed a comprehensive 3-1 Barclays Premier League victory over QPR on Saturday as Everton won 2-0 at Swansea.

O'Neill will finally have skipper Lee Cattermole back after he completed the four-match ban he incurred for collecting his 10th booking of the campaign and then a straight red card in an eventful derby draw at Newcastle earlier this month.

The manager said: "He has served his sentence now and he is obviously dying to get back into the action if he can.

"We have had to battle without him - we have done it before, and who knows, we might have to do it again.

"But I am pleased he is available for us, anyway."

Asked if he had put an arm around his captain as he came to terms with his frustration, O'Neill added with a smile: "No, I am not so sure that I would do that, particularly when you have got yourself stupidly sent off.

"It's not exactly top motivation for me."

PA

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