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

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?