O'Neill blames coloured boots for injuries in the modern game

The 60-year-old Northern Irishman believes that the thin and ultra-lightweight footwear which players currently wear does not offer sufficient protection from injury
Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has expressed concern about the lack of durability of modern football boots suggesting it has led to an increase in injuries.

The Northern Irishman has admitted, however, that he would be fighting a losing battle if he were to ban players from wearing such flimsy boots at the club.

And the former Aston Villa manager also commented on the lack of studs, joking that some of his players would be perfect for BBC programme Ski Sunday.

"Do I despair? I must admit I do throw my hands up when I see some of them. What has happened?" O'Neill told the Daily Mail.

"It makes me laugh, the players of today. There was an incident in training yesterday when someone stamped on Steven Fletcher’s foot. You know he is limping round for two or three minutes and you’re kind of glad.

"The boots are so flimsy. If anyone stands on them, you are going to get injured, like a punctured toe, because there is nothing to them.

"These injuries are to do with the boots which are so light. Now, the boots they wear, the studs — or the lack of studs — I honestly don’t know how they stand up in them. I genuinely do not know how they do it.

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"We’ve got a couple of boys who could easily be on Ski Sunday! Now that’s going back a bit, isn’t it?"

And O'Neill admitted that, despite some of his players being paid to wear luminous footwear, given the choice back in his playing days he would have continued to use black ones.

"Imagine being paid to wear boots, if you can call them boots," he added.

"When they [coloured boots] were introduced, I remember Alan Ball wore a pair of white boots. Of course, he thought he was a great player and, to be fair, he was.

"But to wear really luminous boots you had to be a really good player, but nowadays you don’t have to be a good one to wear them.

"I would love if it came back to just wearing black boots. It would be great. I wore black boots. I certainly wouldn’t have worn orange!

"Under Cloughie [Brian Clough], we were allowed two pairs of boots every season and then you had to buy your own after that. Honestly.

"We had to go down to a place in Nottingham called Redmayne & Todd with a chit and buy your boots. And if the boots you wanted were more expensive, you had to put some extra money to it. And we’d only won the European Cup — twice."

Finally, the 60-year-old hailed Scotland boss Craig Levein's decision to hand Steven Fletcher a return to international football.

He said: "I was as surprised as anyone but delighted for him and delighted for Scotland.

"I’ll be telling him to go easy obviously when he does go away, but I am genuinely pleased the situation has now been resolved."