Sunderland boss relieved that John O’Shea returned fit from Ireland duty

John O'Shea.
John O'Shea.

Sam Allardyce admits he was concerned by hamstring victim John O’Shea’s involvement in the Republic of Ireland’s Euro 2016 play-off.

But with O’Shea returning to Wearside fully fit and Ireland securing their place at next summer’s tournament, Allardyce believes there has been a happy ending for all parties.

I don’t think he would have put himself at any risk, as big a game as it was.

Skipper O’Shea has been sidelined for Sunderland’s last two games, with a recurrence of a hamstring problem on the eve of the defeat to Southampton a fortnight ago expected to rule the 34-year-old out of Ireland’s play-off against Bosnia.

However, O’Shea trained on the eve of the triumphant second leg in Dublin, before coming on as a stoppage time substitute.

Since returning to the Academy of Light though, O’Shea has remained fully fit and is line to return for Monday night’s trip to Crystal Palace.

Allardyce said: “It did worry me at first, but John understands the commitment to his country, as well as his club.

“I don’t think he would have put himself at any risk, as big a game as it was.

“In the end, Martin (O’Neill, Ireland manager) did us a favour in not picking him anyway.

“Maybe that was on the basis that he hadn’t trained that much and the lads who played in Bosnia had done a great job.

“In the end, it turned out fantastic for John and us.

“All the internationals have come back without any injuries and having a full squad is what you always want.”

O’Shea was one of three Sunderland players who triumphed with their countries through the play-offs, with Seb Larsson and Ola Toivonen part of the Sweden squad who beat Denmark.

And Allardyce hopes the euphoria stemming from successful qualification will impact upon Sunderland’s survival challenge.

“Hopefully, the joy of their team getting to the European finals can have some effect on our results at Sunderland,” added the Black Cats manager.

“Some people thought it was the wrong thing to do inviting all these extra countries into the qualifiers.

“But it’s turned out pretty miraculous, with only Scotland not qualifying from the home nations.

“For Northern Ireland, Wales, the Republic and England, it makes the tournament even more exciting and interesting when it comes around in the summer.”