Matt Kilgallon enjoying fresh start at Sunderland after Martin O'Neill's appointment

The defender was handed his first appearance for the club since may 2010 in the win against Manchester City on New Year's Day

Matt Kilgallon has praised the influence of Martin O'Neill following his arrival at Sunderland.

The defender made his first appearance for the club since May 2010 coming on as a sub for Wes Brown in Sunderland's 1-0 win over Manchester City on New Year's Day.

After spending parts of last season on loan at Doncaster and Middlesbrough and a run in Sunderland’s reserves, the defender has finally found a way back into the first-team squad.

Kilgallon told “It's a clean slate with the new manager coming in.

"I'm back training with the first team and he's given me an opportunity. Hopefully I've impressed him and shown him that I can do it.

"We've had some good results and training has been good - the lads have really taken to him. He's a great manager.

"He says little things in training that you think don't mean much but then you notice them in a game. I'm really enjoying working with him."