Sunderland skipper John O'Shea has confirmed the players had a role in the departure of Paolo di Canio.

Di Canio was sacked last Sunday evening after a disastrous run of results, and it later emerged that a furious showdown in the dressing room following the 3-0 Barclays Premier League defeat at West Brom and another at the Black Cats' Academy of Light training ground the following day had prompted a delegation of senior players to call upon the board to take action.

But as the search for the 45-year-old replacement continues, O'Shea insists that he and his team-mates must put a chaotic episode firmly behind them as they attempt to turn their season around.

Asked if the players had felt the need to have their say over Di Canio, he told the Sunderland Echo: "That was obviously done. But we have to move on now.

"Because of the position we are in the league, we can't keep going back to it. We have got some difficult months ahead.

"Whoever comes in, whether it's Bally (interim head coach Kevin Ball) or a new manager, we have got tough times ahead.

"We have to stick together and if we keep going back to it, it will soon be too hard to pull back from where we are."

Ball guided Sunderland to a 2-0 Capital One Cup victory over Peterborough on Tuesday night, but oversaw his side's 3-1 defeat to high-flying Liverpool on Sunday despite a spirited display.

He has asked to be considered for the permanent post with Gus Poyet still the bookmakers' favorite, although chief executive Margaret Byrne has revealed that discussions have taken place with several candidates and that there will be talks with more this week.

The longer that consultation progress continues, the greater the chance of Ball remaining at the helm for Saturday's home clash with wounded Manchester United.

And should he eventually get the job, that would go down well in the dressing room.

O'Shea said: "Without a doubt, he's made an impact. If it does happen, the players would be very happy. But we will wait and see what the club decides."

Sunderland currently lie at the foot of the Premier League table with just a single point to show for their six outings to date, and four adrift of West Ham in 17th place.