Saturday 25 February 2017

O'Neill lays it on the line for Bendtner to improve goal return

Nicklas Bendtner looks like being given the opportunity to earn himself some better headlines tonight as Sunderland seek their second win under Martin O'Neill at QPR.

Bendtner, who was dropped for Sunday's defeat at White Hart Lane along with Lee Cattermole after the pair were arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage, is in line for a start as Connor Wickham is an injury doubt.

O'Neill yesterday challenged the Dane to improve his behaviour off the pitch and his goalscoring on it. Do that, and O'Neill hinted Sunderland might next summer seek to turn Bendtner's loan from Arsenal into a permanent move.

Bendtner has scored twice in 11 appearances for Sunderland and has been criticised for involving himself too much in the build-up play at the expense of being in the penalty area. "I want two basic things from Nicklas," said O'Neill. "Win us some football matches, and behave himself. Then he will be really popular with me."

Of Bendtner and Cattermole's arrest he said: "Behaviour on and off the field is of paramount importance. There is an expectation now of footballers, particularly where they're in a very nice position financially. It's a very serious issue and one that won't be overlooked by the football club."

Of Bendtner's goalscoring, O'Neill added: "He is a naturally talented footballer and I think that if he can put in the work that would be demanded of him at Sunderland he could get the goals for us."

QPR are likely to recall Paddy Kenny in goal, but Neil Warnock has injury concerns over Jay Bothroyd and Danny Gabbidon. Rangers have only won once at home since promotion.

Irish Independent

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