O’Shea targets stylish finish

Thomas Rogne has hinted he might leave Celtic when his contract

expires at the end of the season.

The Norwegian defender, who joined Celtic in 2010 from Stabaek,

turned down the club’s offer of a new deal in February.

The 22-year-old expressed his frustration at his lack of regular

first-team football with the likes of Kelvin Wilson, Efe Ambrose

and Charlie Mulgrew all ahead of him in Neil Lennon’s pecking

order.

Rogne is not keen to discuss his long-term future, but admits he

will use this summer’s European Under 21s Championship as the

chance to put himself in the shop window.

“That is not something I want to talk about,” Rogne told VG when

asked about his contract situation.

“The last time we talked about an extention of the contract was

one year ago.

“Then, we didn’t reach an agreement about something.

“That is not a problem for me. I am concentrating on playing

football and we got a European Championship coming up and I look

forward to that.

“There are many good teams, good players and many clubs in the

stands. If you play and convince them, doors can open for you.”

Rogne admits he is unsure why he has found himself out of the

first-team picture this season.

“I don’t know why it has turned out like this and I am not

satisfied with the lack of playing time,” added Rogne.

“But I just got to work with myself and see what I can do

better. It is a matter of delivering the goods all the time.”

The Black Cats have dragged themselves six points clear of the

Barclays Premier League relegation zone with fine victories over

Newcastle and Everton in their last two games after a battling

defeat at Chelsea to hand new manager Paolo Di Canio a superb start

to his reign.

One more win would take them to 40 points for the campaign and,

particularly if it came at struggling Aston Villa on Monday

evening, would virtually assure them of a place in next season’s

top flight.

However, such is the confidence currently flowing through the

dressing room that O’Shea believes they can set out to win each of

their remaining fixtures.

Asked how many points were still required, the 31-year-old

defender said: “We will take another 12, to be honest.

“The next four games, the performances that we have shown, we

are confident going into these matches.

“But first and foremost, we took the Chelsea step – we were

unlucky we didn’t get a point at least; we focussed on Newcastle,

we got the three; we focussed on Everton, got the win, and we are

just focussing on Villa.

“If we can get something down there, hopefully that should see

us across (the line), but we have got two home games then against

Stoke and Southampton and a tough away game, so the sooner the

better, as they say.”

A return of six points from a possible nine for Di Canio has

launched the Italian’s career on Wearside in remarkable fashion,

and has provided an instant return on all the hard work he, his

coaching staff and the players have done over the last three weeks

or so.

The 44-year-old has been burning the midnight oil at the club’s

Academy of Light training headquarters, and days off for the

players had become a distant memory.

O’Shea and his team-mates were handed a welcome break this week

after their successes against Newcastle and Everton, although the

Republic of Ireland international had no complaints about the busy

schedule which preceded it.

He said: “Look, the lads would have fully taken to it – they

might not have been happy deep down inside, but if it meant keeping

your place in the Premier League, the lads wouldn’t have any days

off.

“There’s never a problem like that. We are paid to be

professional enough like that, that’s never going to be an

issue.

“The dedication, as the manager stressed after the game, the

application the lads have put in and just the focus and

concentration…

“It’s not that he wants us running everywhere during the

training sessions, just for those few little moments he wants us

fully-focussed.

“It’s so important because the lads see in what the manager

prepares, whether it be little videos on the opposition, little

things he thinks we can hopefully take advantage of, and when the

lads see it happening in games and watch it back on videos, they

really buy into what’s going on.”

Di Canio and his players will return to their video screens this

week as they attempt to plot a way past Villa, with their latest

evidence Monday night’s 3-0 defeat at Manchester United.

O’Shea was watching intently as his former club landed their

20th Premier League title, and he saw enough to know the Midlanders

will be no push-over as they attempt to ease their own relegation

fears.

He said: “We saw them against United – I don’t think many teams

would have stopped United in the first half.

“But in the second half, Villa were quite strong and solid and

they will be looking to build on that. But we will be looking to

continue our run as well.”