PAOLO DI CANIO insists captain John O’Shea has the ideal attributes to lead Sunderland.
O’Shea has been confirmed as Sunderland skipper this season, with the 32-year-old taking the armband from midfielder Lee Cattermole, whose future at the Stadium of Light remains in question.
With Cattermole sidelined through injury since February, O’Shea has captained Sunderland throughout Di Canio’s reign - both at the tail end of last season and during the summer’s pre-season campaign.
And Di Canio has been keen to continue that arrangement, believing O’Shea has the experience and organisational abilities that the Sunderland head coach wants to see in his skipper.
Di Canio told the Echo: “John O’Shea is my captain.
“Obviously Lee Cattermole is injured, but John O’Shea is the perfect example of how to be a leader and how to lead by example.
“He’s also a very good footballer and very good at organisation.
“And he has the quality to be very good in the dressing room. He can be counted upon.
“He’s a positive person and he is very good at sending out the right messages to the team at different phases of the game.
“He persuades his team-mates to work hard and leads by example and so, for me, he is the perfect captain.
“That’s not a criticism. It happens.”
Sunderland have been willing to part company with Cattermole throughout the summer as part of Di Canio’s restructuring.
But it looks unlikely that the 25-year-old will leave the Stadium of Light before the September 2 transfer deadline, with the former Middlesbrough man yet to prove his fitness.
There is hope for Cattermole though.
Di Canio told the Echo earlier this week that he wouldn’t freeze out any players who were still on Wearside after the window shuts.
And the Italian insists the captaincy issue shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a snub after taking the armband from a team-mate himself during his playing days.
“When I first went to West Ham, Steve Lomas was captain and had been for three years,” added Di Canio.
“But I remember at some stage he was out and Harry asked me to be captain and then I became captain.
“It can happen at any club and it is not that unusual. So John O’Shea, until things change, will be my captain.”