Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ward's Relishing a Fight for Cats Place

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ward's Relishing a Fight for Cats Place

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Sunderland keeper Darren Ward is not taking his status as the Wearsiders' number one for granted after admitting Marton Fulop is determined to consign him to the sidelines for the foreseeable future.

The Welsh international was forced to miss the club's weekend win at Plymouth with a hamstring problem and, with his able understudy producing a fine performance in his absence, Ward knows he could face a fight for his position.

The 32-year-old does not fear competition and having begun the campaign as Ben Alnwick's deputy, a player who has spent a considerable spell in reserve in recent seasons understands the situation well.

"Marton's situation is the same as mine when I first came to Sunderland," said Ward, who, having spent his first two months as a Black Cat on the bench, ousted Alnwick, a player who has since been sold, in October. "I didn't come to Sunderland to sit on the substitutes' bench and Marton will be the same.

"Just as I fought for the position with Ben, so Marton will fight with me. That's the way it always should be. Competition is good for the team and for the club and it's what the manager wants. I'm delighted to have played as many games as I have but I understand the situation. We get on really well. But Marton will want games and that will be at my expense."

The Hungarian international ( who signed a permanent contract on Wearside last month having moved from Tottenham in a swap deal with Alnwick ( did his chances no harm at Home Park as he marked his second appearance in Sunderland colours with a clean sheet and a performance that won praise from manager Roy Keane.

"Marton is a smashing lad," said Ward, whose next Championship appearance will be his 20th of an impressive maiden campaign in the North-East. "He is very grounded and he works really, really hard.

"He is an excellent goalkeeper who has kept me on my toes since he came to the club and I am sure that will continue. I want to keep my place but I know Marton will push me all the way, and I'm certainly taking nothing for granted."

Having failed a fitness test prior to Saturday's 2-0 win in Devon, Ward will attempt to prove that his problems are behind him ahead of this weekend's home encounter with Southend. …

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