Derby day debut for McAteer

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The Independent Online

The Republic of Ireland international, Jason McAteer, yesterday completed his move to Sunderland from Premiership rivals Blackburn and is eligible to play in Monday's derby at Middlesbrough.

The 30-year-old McAteer had fallen out of favour at Ewood Park, only featuring briefly on Rovers' return to the top flight and manager Graeme Souness agreed to allow him to leave for an undisclosed fee.

Souness denied suggestions that McAteer had moved because of personal differences between the pair – insisting the Irishman was more concerned about his international future with a World Cup next year.

"I like Macca," he said. "He's not caused me a minute's problem since he has been here. I can understand why he was not happy. He wants to be in the team, but I feel we are particularly strong down the right-hand side.

"Apart from wanting to be in the team here, he knows the World Cup is looming. He knows he has a real chance of going, but he has to be starting somewhere, so I can understand his decision."

The Sunderland manager, Peter Reid, revealed he had been tracking the wing-back for many seasons. "I've been a big fan of Jason's since he was at Bolton and I was Manchester City boss," he said. "He'll have no problem settling in."

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