Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lawrence Hails Cats' Rearguard Heroes

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Lawrence Hails Cats' Rearguard Heroes

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Liam Lawrence has paid tribute to the role Sunderland's full-backs played in the side's promotion to the Premiership.

Praise for Sunderland's defensive record in their Championship-winning season has tended to focus on the solid central partnership of Steve Caldwell and captain Gary Breen. But left-back George McCartney weighed in with a number of man-of-the- match displays as the season reached its conclusion and has been, in many observers' eyes, Sunderland's player of the season.

McCartney's left-sided partnership with Julio Arca has not gone unnoticed ( the pair both being named in the PFA's Championship team of the season along with Breen.

"Julio and George can be quite a handful," Lawrence admitted. "Both full-backs do well supporting the wingers."

And having featured regularly in front of Stephen Wright, Lawrence is keen not to overlook the contribution of the former Liverpool right-back either.

Lawrence claims Wright is of a similar mould in that he likes to get forward and support the midfield, but the 24-year-old thinks his experiences at former club Mansfield Town prepared him for the right-back's forward-thinking approach.

"Wrighty, like the lad who played behind me at Mansfield (Rob Hassell), is very good at getting forward," he said. "He's also very good at defending and doing his job back there so it gives me a licence to go forward."

Not that Wright's keenness to attack betrays an unwillingness to muck in doing the unglamorous parts of the job. Lawrence acknowledges the Merseysider is very much a defender first and foremost.

"He is a no-nonsense defender," said Lawrence. "He doesn't take risks and doesn't take prisoners. If there is a tackle there he'll sort someone out."

Arca has set himself another target for the day he is due to collect his Championship medal. Sunderland's season may effectively be over but the Argentinian has got his eyes on reaching double figures in the goalscoring charts for the first season of his career. …

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