Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Ace Fears for Starting Place

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Ace Fears for Starting Place

Article excerpt

Byline: By Luke Edwards

Dean Whitehead fears his wonder goal against Cardiff City will not be enough to keep him in the starting line-up against Burnley on Saturday.

Whitehead hit a sublime opener against the Welsh side last weekend to help launch the Black Cats on their way to a crucial victory.

But, while the former Oxford United midfielder has generally looked at his best when playing in his favoured central midfield role, he admitted he faces an uncertain future.

Mick McCarthy has always selected Jeff Whitley and Carl Robinson in those positions when they are fit. And, with Whitley expected to be back from his hamstring injury at the weekend, Whitehead could be the man to make way.

"Jeff is likely to come back into the side, but I hope I've done enough to keep my place," said the 24-year-old who has made his leap from English football's basement division to the Championship look easy.

"We've got a good squad and you can never be certain about coming straight back into the side.

"Jeff, though, has been the first-choice central midfielder for most of the season and I know that. I can't be certain of keeping my place, despite the goal because he is back at the weekend.

"Central midfield is my best position, but we'll have to wait and see what happens against Burnley because we have a very strong squad here."

Whitehead has arguably been a more consistent success than Liam Lawrence, who has also moved from League Two football and who also scored a fabulous goal at the weekend.

But, with Matt Piper also edging towards full match fitness, both know the competition for places in midfield is ferocious compared to their previous lives with Oxford United and Mansfield Town.

Nevertheless, Whitehead would not have it any other way, especially when he casts his eyes in the direction of his former club. …

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