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The new Black Cats boss accepts it can be hard for loan players to settle quickly, but believes the Dane has the ability to find his best form – and kick start the club’s season

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has backed on-loan striker Nicklas Bendtner to produce the goods for the club in the second half of the Premier League campaign.

Bendtner was signed by Steve Bruce during the summer on a season-long loan deal from Arsenal, but has only managed two goals in a frustrating opening half to the campaign.

The Denmark international has often frustrated in his career, with his latest indiscretion coming earlier this week, when he was arrested along with Lee Cattermole over suspected criminal damage.

Yet O’Neill has defended Bendtner, underlining his faith that the 23-year-old can prove a big hitter on Wearside and solve the club's goalscoring drought.

O’Neill told the BBC: “I don’t see why not. He’s got the ability in abundance. Sometimes I think that players coming in on loan take a wee bit of time to settle, particularly if they think it’s not their club.

“That’s the message I’ve been trying to get across to him here: this is it, this is it for the season, he’s going to play and I think he wants to play, despite the potential shenanigans from before.

“It’s really up to him, but then again, I would say that to all the players – it’s really up to them. We’ve got a cause here, and it’s really worth fighting for.”

The former Aston Villa boss also called on his squad as a whole to get back to winning ways against QPR this week, after a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Tottenham on Sunday.

“We’ve played a couple of games now, one home, one away, and you learn a little more about the team, about what the players are capable of doing, and basically about moral and team spirit,” he continued.

“None of that really has dropped. We lost the game, we were euphoric after beating Blackburn Rovers, but it’s a difficult programme, we can’t change this.

“It’s a really difficult game for us tomorrow evening. But you can’t shy away from them, you’ve got to be prepared for them as best as possible, and just go and try and win.”

Sunderland’s striking options were further limited at the weekend, when Connor Wickham suffered a knee injury after landing awkwardly during the clash with Tottenham, with the 18-year-old a doubt for Wednesday's trip to Loftus Road.

O'Neill added: “I would’ve said his chances might be less than brilliant.

 “He’s got a little bit of fluid on his knee, he landed very awkwardly that time [against Tottenham]. He still wanted to continue in the second half, but he’s a little sore today."

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