Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill wary of in-form Jack Wilshere ahead of Arsenal visit

The Gunners travel to Wearside this weekend

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill will send his players into battle with Arsenal tomorrow warning them to beware a man in whom he has seen shades of Liam Brady.

Gunners midfielder Jack Wilshere starred in England's 2-1 friendly victory over Brazil in midweek to win rave reviews, and his performance was not lost on the Ulsterman.

Wilshere has gone from strength to strength since emerging from a 14-month injury nightmare, and O'Neill holds him in the highest regard.

He said: "He's come on in leaps and bounds. He's come back from the injury and he's certainly added another dimension to his game.

"He's got that little burst of pace which kind of reminds me of Liam Brady - and if he ends up having the same career as Liam Brady, he will be pretty sensational."

Brady, of course, was responsible for Wilshere's early education in the game in his role as Arsenal's head of youth development, and manager Arsene Wenger will be thrilled if he matches the achievements of the former Republic of Ireland international, who graced the turf at Highbury for seven years before heading for Italy and Juventus.

The Gunners will arrive on Wearside sitting in sixth place in the Barclays Premier League table, four points adrift of arch-rivals Tottenham in fourth, and hoping to repeat their victory at the Stadium of Light last season, which was secured by a late strike by loan signing Thierry Henry.

They returned a week later and lost an FA Cup fifth-round tie 2-0, but O'Neill insists neither game will be relevant this time around.

He said: "They have some really, really talented young players now coming to the fore - Wilshere, the improvement in his game now is there for all to see.

"They are just very, very fine players and will cause us problems."

O'Neill hopes to welcome back defender Carlos Cuellar from a hamstring problem, but is likely to be without Republic of Ireland winger James McClean, who damaged an ankle in his country's 2-0 friendly victory over Poland on Wednesday night.

Club-mate Keiren Westwood did not play in that game after losing his place to Millwall's David Forde with manager Giovanni Trapattoni citing Westwood's lack of club football as the reason for his exclusion, which is likely to continue for next month's World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Austria.

Trapattoni revealed he had told Westwood he may have to leave Sunderland to regain his place, and assistant Marco Tardelli suggested he had tried to do so during last month's transfer window.

However, O'Neill said: "No, he didn't ask to leave. He was asking was there a possibility - certainly his agent was asking about the possibility of going on loan.

"In principle, I don't have a really serious problem about players going out on loan, particularly if they go and play.

"For an outfield player, it might be easier to move things around, but for a goalkeeper...

"The teams who asked for him wanted him not just for the month, but they wanted him for a sizeable time, and of course we have only got one other goalkeeper.

"While it's unfortunate for Keiren at the moment, I think you would admit Simon Mignolet is playing brilliantly for us.

"It was news to me that he wanted to leave on a permanent basis. When the season ends, we can always have a look at things.

"But I also understand Keiren's position. He's a talented goalkeeper and really wants to play in someone's first team."

Meanwhile, O'Neill has confirmed that England Under-21 striker Connor Wickham could be sent out on loan with npower Championship side Sheffield Wednesday leading the chase for the 19-year-old.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches