Martin O'Neill says naming six Sunderland substitutes was not meant as a message
Martin O'Neill says he was not making a point to Sunderland owner Ellis Short by naming six substitutes against Bolton.
Last Updated: 06/01/13 8:07am
O'Neill, who saw his side recover from 2-0 down against the Championship club to draw 2-2, said the American was aware of the team's plight and wanted to improve the depth of the playing resources.
"It was not a point whatsoever, it is the way things fell," said the Northern Irishman, whose selection problems mounted with the loss of defenders Danny Rose and Carlos Cuellar to injury.
"I think I get on reasonably okay with the owner. He is well aware so I think he wants to do something about it.
"We had a couple of injuries and illnesses, we don't have the biggest squad and we were really stretched but we've lost a couple more.
"We are trying to do something about it if we can, we need to.
"We couldn't change it much today because we couldn't fill the bench but we treat the competition with its proper merit.
"I don't care how many games we play - I'm told it's five in 15 days - we wanted to be in the competition and do well in it.
"We had 5,000 people spend a lot of hard-earned money to come down and support us and they deserved better than we were serving up in the first half."
Having seen Lee Chung-yong capitalise on Cuellar's 11th-minute mistake O'Neill admitted his side were sloppy as Marvin Sordell headed home the second just after half-time.
But the introduction of striker Connor Wickham turned the tie the Black Cats' way as within three minutes of coming on the 19-year-old scored his first goal since October 2011.
Craig Gardner's 25-yard piledriver set up a frantic finish with the visitors pushing for the winner.
"I thought it was going to be difficult at the start but we certainly contributed to our potential downfall with the first goal," added O'Neill.
"We were very sloppy in the first half but the match finally came to the boil in the last 35 minutes.
"I thought we did brilliantly to fight back.
"Connor was great. It was a great contribution, was good to get the goal and a great confidence booster for him.
"I think that is the first time he has been on the field with Steven Fletcher and although you can't make every judgement in 35 minutes but it looks like they could play together."