O’Shea hails Sunderland new boys’ impact

Santiago Vergini.
Santiago Vergini.

JOHN O’SHEA says it was crucial that Sunderland’s January signings hit the ground running, with the Black Cats in the thick of a relegation dogfight.

All five of Sunderland’s acquisitions in the transfer window have made promising starts to their stints at the Stadium of Light after Gus Poyet targeted specific players to boost his squad last month.

On-loan Fiorentina man Marcos Alonso has held down the left-back spot, while Liam Bridcutt enjoyed a composed debut in the Tyne-Wear derby.

Sunderland’s three Argentina internationals have shown few signs of needing time to make the transition to the Premier League either, albeit £4million frontman Nacho Scocco remains short on match-fitness.

But with Sunderland back in the relegation zone on goal difference, captain O’Shea believes the Black Cats needed an immediate impact from their new boys.

O’Shea told the Echo: “The manager knew all about the players he brought in in January.

“That was an important thing for him. He wanted players who could settle in quickly because of the position we’re in. We needed to add quality to the squad too, to increase the competition, and I think he’s done that.

“If you have competition, that will always be the key to a successful team.”

O’Shea has had a bird’s eye view of new centre-half Santiago Vergini after the pair made their first start together in last weekend’s FA Cup fifth round victory over Southampton.

Vergini is pencilled in to make his full Premier League debut in this weekend’s trip to Arsenal, with Wes Brown completing his two-game suspension.

And despite Vergini’s lack of English, O’Shea has been impressed with the on-loan Estudiantes defender’s grasp of the football on these shores.

“It will be the manager’s call when Wes comes back, but Santi has obviously done brilliantly,” added the Republic of Ireland international.

“For him to come into these games in the way he has, has been fantastic.

“He’s very, very comfortable on the ball coming out from the back and he’s a no-nonsense defender when he has to be, too.

“He has enough English to get by on a football pitch. But he’ll grow in confidence from the game against Southampton. So will Oscar (Ustari) while Nacho’s fitness will improve.”