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Colback relishing midfield role under Poyet
HE was Sunderland’s star performer in last Sunday’s derby win over Newcastle, and now Jack Colback has set his sights on establishing a successful partnership with Lee Cattermole after being told he will finally be used in his natural position.
Colback turned in a superb display against the Black Cats’ arch-rivals and it was no coincidence that the 24-year-old was back in his natural position in centre midfield.
It was a welcome return for the Killingworth-born midfielder, who has been used as a make-shift left-back in most of the games he has played since establishing himself in the first-team squad under Steve Bruce.
Colback, who is out of contract this summer, has done a sterling job filling the void several managers have failed to address on the left and while he hasn’t complained about being played out of position, the 24-year-old has always maintained his desire to play in midfielder.
And now, having been handed the opportunity to stake his claim by new boss Gus Poyet, Colback hopes it will be the start of a successful partnership alongside Cattermole.
“The first day the new manager came in he pulled me to one side and said 'I know you're not a left back and I want to play you in midfield',” Colback revealed. “That was good to hear. It was up to me to show I had enough ability to earn his trust there.
“He's talked one to one with me and I think he's done it with one or two of the others. It's nice to know what the manager's thinking. If you're not in the team and he pulls you aside to explain why, that's good to know. You can see what you've done wrong and maybe try and improve on that.
“At left back I was always just filling and trying to do a job for the team but I never really thought I want to pursue that. I've always seen myself as more of a midfielder. I think I can offer more to the team there. It certainly felt a lot more natural last weekend.”
Cattermole is another player Poyet has given a chance to impress having been frozen out by Paolo Di Canio and Colback believes having the Stockton-born midfielder back will only help Sunderland.
He said: “Everyone brings their own characteristics and qualities to the game, Lee does all the dirty work but he's also very good on the ball. That gets missed - but he can play as well.
“Anyone you play with you try to play to their strengths and weaknesses; we worked well together on Sunday. Lee has certainly got confidence in his ability and it often gets missed that he's a good footballer because he does the other side of it so well.
“He's so good at breaking up the play that his possession of the ball often gets overlooked but the new manager often says he wants to get us playing and passing the ball. It's a style that's not been seen much up here. It's going to take time but we can really do it well. It will be nice for the fans to see that style of football.”
Colback’s future on Wearside has been the subject of speculation following revelations in the summer he had turned down the offer of a new contract.
Poyet will be mindful of the fact the 24-year-old is out of contract in the summer, but Colback insists he is just focusing on playing.
He said: “We've been in talks for a while now. It just takes time. With the position the team is in there haven't been a lot of talks at the moment. I think that's natural. When we start winning that might pick up a bit.
“My last contract took quite a while. I'm just focusing on playing football. What will happen will happen. The new manager's going to have his point of view. If he thinks I'm not good enough they won't offer the contract, it's just something I'm being patient with.
“There's no rush, I'll just concentrate on playing when I do. If the new manager had come in and wanted me to play left back I don't think that would have had any effect on whether I signed a new contract or not.
“I would have taken that on board if he genuinely thought that I had more chance of playing at left back I would have that discussion with him. If I felt he was right it was something we might pursue.”
Colback’s Tyneside roots are common knowledge on both sets of the North-East divide, but despite beating his hometown club last weekend, the 24-year-old admits he wasn’t afraid to go back home.
He said: “No, I didn’t put my hood up when I went back. I put my head out of the window. It was nice to be out and about after a win. When you've got one point and you're bottom of the league you feel half embarrassed going out when you're not performing so it was a nice change.”
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