Lamine Kone’s withdrawal during Sunderland’s win against Chelsea was for tactical reasons, rather than the centre-half suffering an injury.
Kone has been a stand-out figure since arriving in a £5million move from Lorient in January, yet he was taken off before the hour mark and replaced with John O’Shea.
The Ivory Coast international had required treatment during the first half after injuring himself during a clearance, yet Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has revealed that was NOT the reason behind the substitution.
Allardyce felt Kone was looking vulnerable and that decision paid off with O’Shea able to keep closer tabs on Chelsea frontman Diego Costa, who opened the scoring and was twice denied by excellent saves from Vito Mannone.
“It was tactical more than injury,” said Allardyce.
“I think the size and the pressure of playing every single game since he’s been here made him look a little jaded to me.
“I wanted the experience of John O’Shea to secure our defensive frailties.
“They were there a little more than I’ve seen for quite a while, so John coming on and using his experience to block that end worked and of course more importantly at the other end were Fabio (Borini) and Jermain’s (Defoe) goals.”
Allardyce’s target prior to the weekend was to be above neighbours Newcastle United after the conclusion of Wednesday’s visit of Everton.
But with Newcastle only drawing at already-relegated Aston Villa, the Everton clash now offers the opportunity for Sunderland to condemn the Magpies and Norwich to the Championship.
Allardyce added: “Nothing can be predicted in this season, more than any season. It’s the opposite that keeps happening. Everybody thought it was going to be an easy victory for Newcastle and a tough game for us, but they’ve only drawn with Aston Villa and we’ve beaten Chelsea.
“We’ve beaten Chelsea by coming from behind twice. It’s something we’ve never done this season so we’ve achieved a minor miracle in that statistic by coming back and beating such a side as Chelsea on the occasion we needed to most.”