Cana confident he can be successful
LORIK CANA is confident he can become a long-term success story in the Premier League, but will only start to plan for next season once Sunderland have eradicated the threat of relegation. A 3-0 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday has left the Black Cats with an eight-point advantage over the bottom three after Hull's victory over Fulham. With six matches remaining such a cushion should prove enough to keep Sunderland in the top-flight, although avoiding defeat against fourth-placed Tottenham this weekend could be crucial. Cana's season has been very similar to that of the club he joined last summer. After an impressive start to the campaign, he has struggled to reproduce his best form during Sunderland's slump. His frustration has hardly been helped by three suspensions having picked up ten yellow cards and one red in the last eight months. But Cana, a key figure for Marseille during their charges in Europe and in the French league, is satisfied he has the mentality and the ability to deal with a full season in the Premier League. The difference is that the game is always played at a quick pace in England, said Cana. When you play in a team that takes the ball and plays it is different. We cannot always do it, so sometimes we have to play open and quick football, pressing the opposition, instead. But I have played like that before. I played in the Champions League before and it is very quick at that level. It is just that here there are 20 teams that put pressure on you in every minute of every game in this league; like Liverpool did on Sunday. It's a great experience and I'm very happy to be here. Now I want to finish strongly. Of course I will be stronger for the experience. With a year's experience I will be much better. At the moment it is a decent season. I've played a lot of games and learned a lot about the English game but I don't want to think too much about next season when there is still work to do. At the moment our main focus is to pass the bar of 40 points. That is a minimum for us this season and once we have done that we can start to prepare well for next season. We cannot talk too much about next season yet: the most important thing is the next six games. Sunderland are two wins from passing the mark that Cana talks about and with the visit of Tottenham followed by a trip to crisis club West Ham, it will be difficult to claim back-to-back victories in the next couple of weeks. Cana hopes he will retain his place in the starting lineup after being recalled to the centre of midfield at Anfield where he was given the runaround by Steven Gerrard and Javier Mascherano. The 26-year-old was not the only one, with Lee Cattermole the man replaced first by manager Steve Bruce. Cana, however, insists his partnership with Cattermole will strengthen in time. We played a good game at Aston Villa in midweek. Unfortunately we were a bit tired against Liverpool, he said. All of the players really fought against Villa and we didn't have the legs on Sunday to compete against Liverpool. It has been a big blow that me and Lee have not been able to play together as much as we wanted. When we play together the spirit of the team is completely different. For a month and a half it has been better but he has been injured and I have been suspended so we lost more games together. It was a little bit difficult at Liverpool but I am confident we will be back to where we were a few months ago with more games together. When we play together and we are at our best it is a different team. Sunderland will this week assess the fitness of Alan Hutton, who missed the trip to Liverpool through injury, although there is no rush as he is ineligible to face Tottenham under the terms of his loan agreement.
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