Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Pride Will Push the Cats on -Teen Star

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Pride Will Push the Cats on -Teen Star

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

THE season of goodwill will go out of the window at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, according to Grant Leadbitter.

Five wins and three draws in their last nine games have seen the Black Cats emerge as genuine promotion contenders - but 20-year-old midfielder Leadbitter admits battered pride will provide extra motivation when they face second-placed Preston North End.

Paul Simpson's side were on top of their game when the Wearsiders faced them at Deepdale in mid-October and it showed as they handed out a 4-1 hammering. But with the sides due to meet home and away on consecutive Saturdays in the Championship and FA Cup, Leadbitter is anxious to make amends.

"We've got a point to prove," he said. "We want revenge. We were disappointed with the last game, both for the fans and ourselves but most importantly we want three points."

But the midfielder, whose stunning 20-yard strike capped another excellent performance against Leeds United on Boxing Day, does not believe Saturday's result will have any bearing on the Cup encounter. "There's no advantage at all playing them before the FA Cup game," he insisted. "You just take each game as it comes, every day as it comes in life, and just work hard."

When the sides last met Leadbitter was still reestablishing himself in the side - his start against Sheffield Wednesday the previous week was his first for Roy Keane in the Irishman's fifth game in charge - but he is now a key figure in the manager's plans. But despite the deadline-day arrivals of Graham Kavanagh, Dwight Yorke, Liam Miller and Ross Wallace in August, Leadbitter took confidence from the faith Keane showed in him.

"I was never worried about my place at all because he always kept me involved," said Leadbitter, who saw fellow midfielders Tommy Miller, Arnau Caldentey Riera and William Mocquet loaned out without playing for Keane. …

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