Martin O'Neill backs Danny Graham to win over Sunderland fans
Striker joined from Swansea in £5m deal
Friday 01 February 2013
Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has told new signing Danny Graham to let his football do the talking as he attempts to prove his critics wrong.
The 27-year-old will go straight into the squad for tomorrow's Barclays Premier League trip to Wigan having completed a £5million switch to the Stadium of Light from Swansea yesterday.
However, he did so with the debate over his boyhood affiliation to Newcastle and consequent attitude to his new club still raging on.
Graham was booed by some home fans during the Swans' 0-0 draw on Wearside on Tuesday evening less than 48 hours before he signed, but O'Neill is confident he will silence his detractors by doing what he does on the pitch.
The Ulsterman said: "He wants to do well and the very fact is that the reaction he got the other evening didn't put him off coming here - that would say something about the lad - and I think he wants to go and prove himself.
"I think he has felt that during the course of his career, that's what he's had to do every single time, try to prove himself. That's probably what has kept him going.
"In the scheme of things, it's how Danny does for the football club that will determine everything else.
"I have got really no doubts that he will score goals and he will prove a great buy.
"He has got some experience, of course, because he scored goals last season, and I think he wants to prove a point. All those attributes, I find pretty nice."
O'Neill was not deterred in his pursuit of the former Middlesbrough, Carlisle and Watford frontman by the less than unanimous reception, and sees no reason why he cannot be a big hit on Wearside.
He said: "Steven Fletcher has come in and he might not have been everyone's choice, as it were, and he's settled down and he has been terrific for us, really terrific.
"We have got a number of people here who have grown up either Middlesbrough fans or Newcastle fans - Lee Cattermole may never have considered himself ever playing for Sunderland at some stage or another. It can happen."
Graham was O'Neill's third and final January acquisition, following Bursaspor midfielder Alfred N'Diaye and Al Hilal defender Kader Mangane, who has joined the club on loan until the end of the season.
However, he was perhaps the most coveted as the manager attempted to bolster his striking options after allowing Fraizer Campbell, Louis Saha and Ji Dong-won, the latter on loan, to leave the club this month.
Whether the newest addition will eventually form a two-man frontline with leading scorer Fletcher remains to be seen with O'Neill having relied largely on the Scotland international operating as a lone striker with Stephane Sessegnon providing the support this season.
He said: "I will give that some thought and of course during the course of the next number of matches if they stay fit, then we will see how things develop.
"I have got an idea, but we will see."
Sunderland have eased themselves into the relative comfort of mid-table with four victories in their last seven league outings and have taken seven points from the last nine on offer, but O'Neill is acutely aware that Reading, who came back from 2-0 down to draw with Chelsea in midweek, represent a genuine threat to their hopes of extending that run.
He said: "They never seem to be beaten. They were 2-0 down on Wednesday evening and were able to fight back against Chelsea, so it won't be easy for us."
Defenders Danny Rose and Carlos Cuellar could return after resuming training following hamstring injuries, but skipper Cattermole has suffered another setback in his attempts to shake off a knee problem.
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