Football - Fitness saved Black Cats - O'Shea

Sunderland defender John O'Shea will look back on an eventful season grateful to have emerged from it both in good health and with honour intact.

PA Sport

The 32-year-old will run out at Tottenham knowing the Black Cats will be playing their football in the Barclays Premier League once again next season no matter what the result at White Hart Lane, something which was in doubt right up until Wigan's defeat at Arsenal on Tuesday evening.

He will do so have played a key role for club and country during a campaign which has seen him captain Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland and help steer them through decidedly choppy waters.

Martin O'Neill was shown the exit door at the Stadium of Light in March and Giovanni Trapattoni's reign came under serious threat after a 6-1 home World Cup qualifier defeat by Germany in October but, through all the turmoil, O'Shea stood tall and continued to do what he has done with such distinction throughout his career.

He said: "Thankfully the fitness has been very good this year, that's been the main thing.

"You are maintaining everything off the pitch in terms of the work you do in the gym and the core work - especially when you are getting into your 30s rather than your 20s, it's definitely needed more.

"But also you know you are preparing yourself right and you can cope with it.

"Thankfully, I have never had the major injuries that can hold you back towards the latter end of your career. I feel very fresh."

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