Monday 30 January 2012

O'Neill hails returning Campbell

Boss says positive attitude of striker has been a real asset to Sunderland

Fraizer Campbell made his crucial contribution after 59 minutes against Middlesbrough

Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill praised the positive mental attitude of Fraizer Campbell as the forward made a goalscoring return for the Black Cats following a lengthy injury absence.

Campbell came on as a half-time substitute in the FA Cup tie against Middlesbrough on Sunday, his first match since rupturing his cruciate knee ligament in a 1-0 win over Manchester City on 29 August 2010.

The former Manchester United man scored Sunderland's goal in the 1-1 draw and O'Neill said it was a deserved goal.

"Our physio says Fraizer might be the best he has witnessed in terms of never being down"
- Martin O'Neill

"I am really delighted for Fraizer. He has done so well to come back from the injuries he has sustained," he said.

"He took his goal brilliantly, even though it was probably only his second or third touch.

"Physio Dave Galley has been in the business for a long time and he says Fraizer might be the best he has witnessed in terms of never being down.

"Because of the seriousness of the injuries, there were times when you thought that might be it, but he has knuckled down every time and came back stronger.

"He’s been coming in every day with a smile on his face, and he lifts everyone at the football club because of his attitude. It was great for him to have something to celebrate."

Campbell, who moved to Sunderland from Old Trafford in a £3.5m deal in July 2009, paid tribute to his team-mates after scoring his first goal in 21 months.

"I just remember running as fast as I could - I couldn't breathe very well!" he said.

"James [McClean] played a great ball in for me and I just put it away. I though James did really well today - he had a great game.

"It's a dream start. I didn't expect to get any minutes today so to get on and score was brilliant."

He added: "It was brilliant just to get on the pitch and I have to say the welcome from the crowd was great.

"The fans have always been first class with me and have been one of the things which has kept me going during the 18 months I've been out."

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Key Points

  • Campbell played for the first time since August 2010
  • Scored within 14 minutes of coming on as substitute
  • Forward signed for Sunderland from Man Utd in July 2009