Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager, admits Stéphane Sessègnon's versatility presents him with a welcome headache. The 27-year-old Benin international arrived at the Stadium of Light from Paris St Germain in January with a reputation for being able to play through the middle or on either flank, and his ability to switch roles has already been put to good use by Sunderland.
Sessègnon has lined up in a wide midfield role, in the hole behind a lone striker and up front himself, and has started all 11 of the club's games to date this season. He did not score until the 2-0 Premier League win at Bolton on 22 October, but his second came just a week later as he clinched a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday.
Bruce said: "He gives you that good headache where he can play effectively [in several positions]. That's what we looked at, at the back end of last season, when he played up top and got three goals in the last five games, and played in pre-season and got something like three or four goals in five games. But you worry and think: 'Can he score enough if we are going to play him up the top end of the pitch?' And that's what I have got in my mind at the moment.But he's certainly a very good player wherever he plays."
Sessègnon will do well to extend his scoring run this weekend as Sunderland head for Manchester United. They are likely to do so without goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who underwent surgery to repair his broken nose on Sunday after a collision with Aston Villa's Emile Heskey.
Defender John O'Shea is a major doubt after suffering a recurrence of the hamstring problem which truncated his pre-season. Should O'Shea miss out against his former club, the chances of him joining up with the Republic of Ireland ahead of their Euro 2012 play-off against Estonia would be remote.
Carl Fletcher, meanwhile, has been appointed full-time manager of Plymouth. The 31-year-old assumed caretaker charge of the club following the dismissal of Peter Reid in September and has overseen a slight upturn in form at Home Park, although Argyle remain bottom of League Two. Romain Larrieu has been appointed player-coach. Plymouth's chairman of football operations, Peter Ridsdale, said: "They have earned the chance."