SUNDERLAND are looking at boosting their attacking ranks with the short-term acquisition of former Everton goal-threat Tim Cahill.
After being reassured by Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas that left-back Danny Rose will not be recalled early during his season-long loan, O'Neill has turned his attentions to other areas.
And improving his attacking options is something he is desperate to do, even if the arrival of Cahill would only be for two months.
Loading article content
The Australian is open to offers after the his first season in Major League Soccer with the New York Red Bulls came to an end recently.
If the 33-year-old was able to show the sort of form which saw him score seven goals in 14 games against the Black Cats during his career in English football then O'Neill's short term decision would be vindicated.
The Sunderland manager is keen to bring in a player with the sort of character and desire which a player of Cahill's ilk is still likely to provide.
O'Neill is desperate to strengthen his squad in the next month having realised his squad is still short of quality and depth in the first half of the season.
There was good and bad news from Spurs when discussions about Rose took place after Sunderland's 2-1 defeat on Saturday.
O'Neill has been told the young left-back can stay until the summer when his loan is due to expire, but Villas-Boas is not prepared to sell a player who Sunderland had hoped to tie down permanently.
The Tottenham boss said: “I’ve been speaking with Danny about the situation and our objective is to bring (back) the player. We believe in him a lot.”
Villas-Boas actually described the prospects of a permanent deal as “impossible” but O'Neill smiled and suggested Sunderland will still be doing their best to make it happen – even if it is not until next summer.
“A lot of things can change, if we put an offer of £38m in that might change things, I think he would taxi him up here,” said O'Neill.
“At the moment he is doing very, very well and in many aspects it is helping Tottenham. There were not many takers for Danny when we came in for him and he has enjoyed it immensely here.”
Rose had to sit in the stands as Tottenham came from behind to collect the points because he was ineligible under the terms of his loan.
But the 22-year-old is likely to be back in the starting line-up at Liverpool on Wednesday night after O'Neill was left under the impression Tottenham will not be asking for him back yet.
O'Neill said: “There was a date in January of which Tottenham had to let us know one way or the other, but if that is not the case that is something we can address later on. That is less of a concern now.”
Rose's return will help O'Neill after another injury has ruled John O'Shea out of the trip to Anfield.
O'Shea, who scored his first goal in more than three years to put Sunderland ahead against Tottenham, had to hobble off with 22 minutes remaining. With Wes Brown also ruled out for the long term, Titus Bramble, Matt Kilgallon and Carlos Cuellar are battling it out to face Liverpool.
O'Neill said: “John O'Shea will be out. We are stretched a bit. That's only to be expected at this time of the year, we will have to go again on January 2. He felt the bottom of his hamstring.”
Sunderland's failure to hold on to the lead O'Shea's opener had earned meant missing out on recording a third successive win for the first time this season.
O'Neill said: “Tottenham are a really fine side but I am really disappointed we lost from a position we worked exceptionally hard to get in front.
“Whether Tottenham deserved to be behind I don’t know, it is not for me to consider that, but I am really disappointed we didn’t get something from the game.
“But the confidence is there with the side and that is good. I don’t think they are concerned any more about playing and worried about making mistakes but I feel the crowd is behind them which is probably the most encouraging thing.”