SUNDERLAND’S failure to find the back of the net for the fourth game in a row frustrated Martin O’Neill – particularly as he felt he could have finished some of the opportunities himself on Saturday!
But he knows he has little in the way of options as the 2011-12 season reaches its end.
The Nicklas Bendtner-Stephane Sessegnon partnership virtually picks itself if fit, even though it has hardly set the Premier League alight.
Beyond that, Fraizer Campbell’s return from long-term injury provides a viable substitute option, but Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won have yet to press their claims home.
O’Neill knows that with the players at his disposal, he has to keep on playing the hand he has been dealt until the summer, even if it keeps drawing a blank.
“I’m very much aware we haven’t scored in four games,” he acknowledged.
“We scored three against Manchester City at the Etihad before this barren run and since then, it has been a combination of things.
“We didn’t deserve any goals against Wolves, but we should have scored six or seven against Villa.
“It’s a worry because some of the goal opportunities there that we’ve missed – I think I could have scored myself.”
O’Neill was not grumbling too much, though, as he left Villa Park with a valuable away point.
“Failing to score was disappointing, but that was the only disappointment on the day,” he said.
“I thought James McClean was terrific on the wing and Jack Colback was excellent for us in the middle of the pitch.
“McClean continues his good run in the side.
“Players are doubling up on him and he’s trying to sort that out himself – which is great.
“But I have to say that he must have put something like five crosses into the box that were brilliant and that deserved a goal.”