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O’Neill has praise for Kean’s resolve

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill has praised the ongoing efforts of Blackburn counterpart Steve Kean to keep his club in the Barclays Premier League.

The Scot has spent much of the campaign batting against a chorus of disapproval from Rovers fans, and heads into the final 10 games of the campaign three points clear of the relegation zone but with top-flight status far from being secured.

The first of those games comes tonight when Blackburn have home advantage against Sunderland.

O'Neill, who launched his reign on Wearside with a 2-1 victory over Blackburn on December 11, has saluted Kean's fortitude.

He said: “He has managed it very well indeed, very well. Management is not that easy these days.

“You are under constant bombardment. When results are not going so well, you expect to get it very single week.

“They have had a few results there that have been terrific. I saw them a couple of weeks ago against Aston Villa.

“I thought they were sluggish in the first half, but performed very well in the second half, very well indeed, and they have gone on to win since that.

“They have got 25 points and I am sure at this moment, while they wouldn't consider themselves safe by any stretch of the imagination, at least it's something to go for. It's something to hang on to as well.”

Sunderland were themselves in danger of being sucked into the fight against relegation when owner and chairman Ellis Short decided to replace Steve Bruce with O'Neill.