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poyet: o'shea a true leader

Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet has hailed John O'Shea's leadership skills after watching him make his own way as a captain rather than adopting the Roy Keane approach.

The 33-year-old central defender signed a two-year contract extension on Thursday as the Black Cats tied up the immediate future of a man who has become central to their ongoing project.

Poyet was thrilled to have secured the services of a model professional, whose upbringing at Manchester United helped to hone the personality traits which have seen him establish himself as the management's representative on the pitch.

The Uruguayan said: "It's the whole thing, definitely the influence of Manchester United because he was there playing with top players, and I am sure he took things from different characters.

"He cannot imitate - he cannot be his previous captain, Roy Keane - but he can imitate other ones. It's just to learn and put what you are into the job.

"He does it naturally, I can tell you, there are no issues."

O'Shea, who features in Keane's updated autobiography The Second Half with the Republic of Ireland and Aston Villa assistant manager jokingly claiming he helped to bring Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford by playing like "a clown" against the then Sporting Lisbon youngster in a pre-season friendly, capped a perfect few days by putting pen to paper on Wearside.

The contract announcement came less than 48 hours after he marked his 100th cap for Ireland by scoring a late equaliser against world champions Germany in Gelsenkirchen, illustrating the range of qualities Poyet values so highly.

Asked if O'Shea is the perfect role model for his younger players, the head coach said: "I'll tell you what, it's easy that answer because yes, it's true.

"He's always there, he's always on time, he is always fit - or most of the time - he looks after himself, he represents the club well, the players. That's why he is the captain.

"You have different types of captain at different clubs, sometimes because of how good they are and they have to be the captain, sometimes because they lead by example, sometimes because they have even better, the package he's got, he represents us on the pitch.

"He's a very good link between the staff and the players on the pitch. He knows what we want, he understands - it doesn't mean he agrees, but he understands, and that's important for us because he knows most of the time what we need."

O'Shea's midweek heroics will be a distant memory on Saturday when he leads the Black Cats out at Southampton looking for follow up a first Barclays Premier League victory of the season at home to Stoke with a second at Southampton.

Steven Fletcher's double - his first goals since December 28 last year - helped to secure a 3-1 win over the Potters and end a miserable injury-plagued spell for the Scotland international.

Poyet said: "The mental side is for me right now the most important one. If you are right mentally, then the technical side of things, recovery, whatever you can talk about, it's easier.

"He has done it, you have to give him the credit. He was not happy, he trained to a certain level where it was impossible for me to leave him out and then he showed why he was in that kind of form, a striker scoring goals.

"He performed very well with Scotland as well without scoring. He was very important for the two games, so he looks all right. He looks happy and that's good."

Poyet will be without full-back Billy Jones, who suffered a muscle injury in a behind-closed-doors friendly last week, and Santiago Vergini, who won his second cap for Argentina in midweek, is likely to deputise.

Jones' injury has highlighted Sunderland's lack of defensive cover and to that end, out-of-contract former Napoli full-back Anthony Reveillere has been training within the club.