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O'Neill faces tough call over arrest duo

Martin O'Neill was today facing a decision over Lee Cattermole and Nicklas Bendtner after it emerged that the pair had been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.

Barely a fortnight into his reign, the 59-year-old found himself having to deal with an unwelcome off-field situation with both men due to return to the squad for tomorrow's Premier League trip to Tottenham.

Northumbria Police confirmed that skipper Cattermole and on-loan striker Bendtner, both 23, were bailed after being arrested in connection with in incident in Newcastle in which cars were damaged on December 6.

The news came less than a week after central defender Titus Bramble returned to action after a six-week club suspension following his arrest after a night out on Teesside.

O'Neill had indicated that both men could be involved at White Hart Lane before news emerged of their arrest.

Cattermole missed O'Neill's first game in charge, last Saturday's 2-1 home victory over Blackburn, as he served a one-match ban after reaching five bookings for the season, while Bendtner, who played in a training ground match on Thursday, sat out with a groin problem.



exertions

O'Neill said: "We have three players who weren't available last week for one reason or another -- Bendtner, Cattermole and (Craig) Gardner -- and if Craig Gardner and Bendtner have recovered from yesterday's exertions in the game, then we could have them available for selection, so that's encouraging."

O'Neill could have done without any distractions as he attempts to drag Sunderland away from the developing battle against relegation.

They remain just two points clear of the drop zone despite last weekend's victory, and while the win over Blackburn launched the new manager's reign in promising style, he knows there is much work still to be done.

He said: "It's been hectic, but obviously Sunday's result made it worthwhile. Even with that, we haven't got level points per games played yet, so we have to really battle through this Christmas period."


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