Colback is a ray of light for Bruce

17 May 2011 09:35
IT has been a trying few weeks for everyone associated with Sunderland, but Steve Bruce feels Jack Colback's emergence has provided some much-needed light amid the gloom.

Colback has started the Black Cats' last five matches, and was the stand-out performer in both the 2-1 win at Bolton and last weekend's 3-1 defeat to Wolves.

The 21-year-old, who spent three months of the current campaign on loan at Ipswich Town, has successfully cemented a place in next season's 25-man Premier League squad.

And while he is desperate to make significant personnel changes this summer, Bruce is determined not to block Colback's progress over the next few years.

In all the adversity, Jack has been the shining light, said the Sunderland boss. I know he can play in the Premier League very well now. In a struggling team he has been our best player, so hats off to him.

He'll be part of the squad next year and he'll definitely have a chance of featuring. He might have thought a while back that his chance had gone, but that was never the case for me.

I'm a big believer in letting the young lads go out on loan, and the year at Ipswich helped him. He then went back out again because I believe that once a young lad has that type of competitive experience, it's pointless putting them back in the reserves.The experience helped him mature, and he's used that to get where he is today. I would have loved to have put him in a winning team, but he's helped us these past couple of weeks with his composure on the ball. He's proved himself at this level, which is grand.

While Colback will be an integral part of next season's first-team squad, fellow midfielder Bolo Zenden will be heading for pastures new at the end of the current campaign.

As highlighted in yesterday's Northern Echo, Zenden has rejected Bruce's offer of another deal at the Stadium of Light as he is unhappy with an appearance record that has seen him make just ten Premier League starts in the space of two seasons.

That was my last home game, said Zenden, in the wake of Saturday's defeat to a Wolves side led by former Sunderland boss Mick McCarthy. It's more than likely to be, anyway.

I had a chat with the manager and explained the situation. I just want to be able to play a bit more.

I've played the last two games, but it's not nice to have to wait until ten people are injured before you get an opportunity.

It's been a season of two halves, where I played a lot more in the first half of the year than the second. I still think I can play at this level and that's why it's important to play more regularly because that makes it easier to keep going.

The 34-year-old, who initially joined Sunderland as a free agent in October 2009, will make his final appearance for the club in Sunday's game at relegated West Ham.

* Tickets for Sunday's trip to Upton Park are on general sale at the Stadium of Light ticket office, priced £46 for adults and £26 for Over-65s and Under-16s.

Source: Northern_Echo

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