Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Caldwell: Title Is in Our Grasp

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Caldwell: Title Is in Our Grasp

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Steve Caldwell last night set his sights on the Coca-Cola Championship summit and admitted he will not be satisfied until Sunderland have established themselves in an automatic promotion position.

The Black Cats returned to winning ways at the weekend with a 1-0 triumph at Leicester and, having now closed the gap on the divisional leaders to five points, Mick McCarthy's team will approach this Sunday's top-of-the-table encounter with Ipswich in high spirits.

Joe Royle's in-form side beat Leeds on Saturday to capitalise on Wigan's latest defeat, against Queens Park Rangers, and draw level on points with the long-term leaders. And Caldwell is determined to further the Wearsiders' Premiership prospects in what will be a key league fixture at the Stadium of Light.

"The table is looking better but it is still not looking great," said the defender, whose second-half goal proved decisive at the Walkers Stadium as Sunderland recovered from defeat at Millwall to record a valuable victory. "It was important to bounce back with three points.

"We want to be first or at the very worst, second in the table. It's bunching up again and Wigan don't seem quite as invincible as they did three weeks ago. We have a massive game on Sunday and hopefully we can get a win in front of our crowd and push on from there.

"We had an iffy start and because of that, we're pleased to be in the position we are. But when we look back at the defeats we have had, we know that we could have done better. Beggars can't be choosers and we're happy to be where we are for now. If we keep putting in gritty performances, we should do well and when we get the ball down we have shown we can play. Sunday will hopefully be a better game, a nice spectacle, and hopefully we can come out winners."

Caldwell has established himself as a key figure at the heart of the Wearside defence and has played a major role for a team who have kept eight clean sheets in their last 13 league games. Only Wigan have conceded fewer goals than the Black Cats and although he has now scored three times this term it is his defensive duties which most concern the Scottish international.

"I'm pleased with my goal but it isn't the most important thing for me," he said. "It isn't something I practice, all I practice is trying to keep the goals out at the other end. I'm happier with the clean sheet in a way and, as long as somebody scores, I don't mind who gets the goals.

"The clean sheets are down to understanding and playing together. A lot of new faces have come into the team but now we know each other's games. Myself and Gary (Breen) are a lot more comfortable with the other's games, we know what the other one is all about and long may it continue."

The form of Julio Arca has helped Sunderland maintain their promotion push and the news last week that the talented South American had signed a new contract which will keep him at the Stadium of Light until 2007 has given all in the camp a major boost. …

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