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NEWS: Sunderland manager refutes O'Shea retirement claims - is he just avoiding the question?

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Despite reports in the national media yesterday claiming that John O’Shea was set to retire at the end of the season, Chris Coleman has today said that the Sunderland captain may well carry on his playing career beyond the culmination of the current campaign.

Bury v Sunderland - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Reports from the Irish Times' chief sports writer Gary Doyle yesterday suggested that longtime Sunderland captain John O'Shea would announce his retirement from professional football at the end of this season.

Although, Doyle explained that the former Manchester United man wasn't expected to go public with his retirement plans before the culmination of the current season, which ends against Wolves on the 6th of May.

However, in his press conference today ahead of our game with Derby County, Sunderland manager Chris Coleman publicly denied all knowledge of the 36-year-old Republic of Ireland international's impending departure, but conceded that O'Shea may well choose to play on elsewhere.

Understandably, Coleman likely wishes to avoid the unwanted distraction of his most senior player deciding to leave the club before the end of the season - with his team locked in a relegation battle, it’s entirely possible that he has simply avoided answering the question in full.

O'Shea has appeared 32 times for Sunderland already this season, managing to stay fit throughout and has played in almost all of Chris Coleman’s games so far since he arrived on Wearside in November.

It'll be interesting to see where this story goes. When O’Shea signed his new deal with the club last summer nobody expected that he would go on to play as much as he has during the current campaign.

It could well be the case that the five-time Premier League winner may be seeking a more satisfactory end to what is - with the removal of his significant spell on Wearside - a glittering playing career.

O'Shea received considerable interest from league-leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers following Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League last season.

It may well be that the Irishman fancies one last hurrah - or perhaps moving into a player-coaching role at a club further down the ladder in a bid to continue his career whilst honing his skills as a coach, having expressed interest in the past in moving into an off-field role once his playing days are over.

Either way, his time at Sunderland appears to be over come the end of the season.