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O'Neill and Pardew call a truce
MARTIN O'Neill and Alan Pardew have agreed to put their past disagreements behind them after a chance meeting earlier this month.
The respective managers of Sunderland and Newcastle United were involved in an explosive encounter during the Tyne-Wear derby in March.
They squared up on the touchline as Pardew celebrated the award of a second-half penalty, which was subsequently missed, and became embroiled in a war of words in the wake of the 1-1 draw.
O'Neill accused Newcastle's backroom staff of attempting to influence referee Mike Dean during the half-time interval, while Pardew accused Sunderland of "playing ugly" during the early stages of the game.
The pair did little to play down suggestions of a feud in the final two months of the season, but their stance has softened after they met at this month's League Managers' Association awards in London, where Pardew was crowned Manager of the Year.
It is understood the two North-East bosses held a friendly conversation, in which they agreed to draw a line under last season's events.
There is also an understanding at both Sunderland and Newcastle that there is little to be gained from the region's two biggest clubs being at loggerheads.
Ironically, O'Neill and Pardew share a mutual appreciation for each other's efforts last season.
O'Neill has spoken extensively about his admiration for Newcastle's achievements, and the Northern Irishman welcomed Pardew's Manager of the Year award.
Pardew praised the way O'Neill turned Sunderland's season around after replacing Steve Bruce, and has previously spoken of the benefits of all the North-East's clubs doing well.
It remains to be seen whether the current dÃ©tente survives the first derby game of next season, but it is hoped the build-up will no longer be dominated by suggestions of a mutual antipathy between the two bosses.
* Sunderland defender John O'Shea sat out training with the Republic of Ireland yesterday as he continues to recover from the ankle injury sustained in the final game of the season against Manchester United.
O'Shea has joined up with his international team-mates at a training camp in Malahide, but Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni is determined not to rush his recovery.
The Black Cats defender is expected to miss Ireland's opening warm-up game against Bosnia at Dublin's Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
However, Trapattoni is confident the 31-year-old will have recovered in time for Ireland's opening game of the European Championships against Croatia on June 10.