Scottish Premier League

Meekings' pullover pull over

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Wed, 27 Feb 2013 09:23:00

John O'Shea has urged Sunderland to discover some consistent form as they attempt to ease their relegation fears.

Sunderland have gone four games without a win after Saturday's 2-1 defeat by West Brom and are now sitting in a precarious position, five points above the drop-zone.

O'Shea is frustrated by the team's failure to produce a run of results and the former Manchester United player admits the players must be more clinical at both ends of the pitch.

"Consistency is the big thing we have to get back here," the defender told the Northern Echo.

"We are consistent about being inconsistent at the minute and that's something we have to change.

"We are more than capable of doing it and getting the confidence back in terms of winning games and going ahead in games. If we can do that soon then I am sure we will be fine. We have to do it sooner rather than later though."

When asked about United's consistency in the league, he said: "There's a lot of things you can do during the week to improve your chances of becoming more consistent. Taking that first chance in the game, stopping that striker for the first time in a game.

"If you do those things in the week then you know if a chance comes at the weekend you will be at least prepared to take it properly."

O'Shea is fully aware that Sunderland will be dragged into a dogfight if they do not stop the rot quickly.

"We are taking the relegation threat very seriously," he said. "We have come off in the last three games and thought 'how have we not got anything from these games'.

"The next thing you know there's eight or nine games left and we think 'here you go' relegation is not too far away. The sooner you get the wins on the board the better."

The defender suffered a freak back injury before Caley Thistle's 3-2 win over Hearts on Saturday and was replaced by Danny Devine.

But he gets a swift chance to return for the SPL's second-placed side as fellow centre-back Gary Warren is suspended.

Inverness boss Terry Butcher said: "Josh is fine. He just tweaked his back putting his jumper on.

"I think he has been putting cardigans on thereafter.

"It was a freak injury but it didn't affect us. Danny Devine came in and played very, very well.

"Unfortunately Gary is out which is disappointing because Gary has been such an influential leader for us.

"With the two goals he got on Saturday as well, he was looking to add to his tally against Dundee United.

"It's his first break of the season, he has played in every minute of every game, all 34.

"Only Graeme Shinnie has done the same so Graeme will go one better than Gary.

"It's great when you have people that can give you that level of performance week in, week out.

"Gary will come back for the Higland derby on Saturday and Josh Meekings will come back. We still have that settled side and a side that is hungry to stay in second place."

Inverness have scored eight goals in two games against United this season and Tannadice manager Jackie McNamara is looking for defensive improvement following their 2-2 draw with Hibernian on Sunday.

"Hopefully we have learned our lesson from that point of view," McNamara said.

"It's something we have to work on and have got to do better.

"Inverness have been playing well this season and thoroughly deserve to be where they are in the league, which is second top.

"They score a lot of goals so obviously we want to keep things tight at the back and not help them in any way."

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