Stuff happens: Mannone shrugs off the loss of injured centre-back O’Shea in Sunderland’s defeat to Boro

Papy Djilobodji won praise for his debut at centre-back

Papy Djilobodji won praise for his debut at centre-back

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When John O’Shea pulled up with a groin injury after 37 minutes, you could have forgiven Vito Mannone for thinking ‘what is going to happen next?!’

Sunderland were already without wantaway defender Lamine Kone with a back injury, while Younes Kaboul had been sold to Watford.

With David Moyes bereft of central defenders, the last thing he needed was to lose another, especially his captain.

But experienced Mannone says Sunderland have no choice at the moment but to get on with it until the cavalry arrives.

Two games into the season and Mannone has already played behind three different central defensive partners; Kone and Kaboul at Manchester City and then O’Shea/Papy Djilobodji and then Djilobodji/Jack Rodwell in yesterday’s defeat to Middlesbrough.

Mannone said: “You have to deal with it, it happens in games, it happens in the Premier League.

“You have changes in front of you, a sending off or an injury. You just have to deal with it.

“I thought Jack did OK there, even if it is not his main position.

“Hopefully, the manager will look into and address the situation, have something solid at the back.”

New signing Djilobodji, signed from Chelsea for £8million in the summer, was thrown in for his first Sunderland start against Aitor Karanka’s Boro.

Overall, it was an encouraging display from the 27-year-old. “He did well,” said Mannone.

“He is a player who has composure on the ball and he has good feet, a good physicality.

“He needs to get used to everyone and it will take time, it is like an engine, you need some oil to get going but he will be a good player for us.”

Sunderland are pointless after their opening two games of the new campaign and have a patched-up, inexperienced starting line-up.

Another season of struggle beckons but Mannone is keeping calm and insists that hard work is the key to Sunderland riding this current rough patch out.

“We are all in the same boat, you know, we know, the club and the fans know, we all wanted a different start to the season,” said Mannone.

“It has been a very good pre-season in terms of training – we trained very hard – but the changes and the short time the manager has been in, get players out and in, it is difficult.

“As well in the last week, you lose important players through injuries or whatever.

“You find yourself with a different players and they have to step in, the only thing we can do is work.

“Work together, follow the manager and we won’t have a long time, there is another game on Wednesday and we need to win that to build our confidence, to go into Southampton with confidence.”