Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Star Clings to Top-Flight Dream

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Star Clings to Top-Flight Dream

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Julio Arca bids to keep his Premiership dream alive at Brighton this afternoon after admitting he believed the chance to play another season of top- flight football for Sunderland had been lost.

The Argentinean midfielder is widely admired among English football's elite and will be the subject of renewed interest this summer should Mick McCarthy's men fail to win promotion from the Championship.

But a player who enjoyed the highs of Peter Reid's Stadium of Light reign, before suffering the confidence-sapping low of relegation, is intent on resurrecting his Premiership career in a red-and-white shirt.

"There was a time when I thought I might never play another top-flight match for Sunderland," admitted the in-form 24-year-old.

"When we were relegated I wasn't a regular and it wasn't the easiest of times for me. I feared the worst and wondered what the future might hold.

"I came very close to leaving Sunderland. I had to think about what would be best for me and for a time it looked like I might have to look elsewhere.

"But things change in football and the bad times come and go. Now it's easy to forget the worst that has happened ( things are going so well for me and the team that I couldn't be happier.

"Promotion would be perfect. I want to play in the Premiership but I want to play in the Premiership with Sunderland."

Arca has been subjected to an uncompromising second season in the Championship after emerging as the Black Cats player most likely to unlock league defences last season.

And while the South American's views on his lack of protection in a physically demanding division are well known, the left-footer is determined to focus on the football which will seal the Wearsiders' top-flight place.

"We are so close to the Premiership now that we can't help but look forward to what might be next season," he added. "There are 14 league games left and if we can win nine of those games then I think we'll be there. …

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