Kilgallon keen to emulate Lescott

04 February 2010 10:24
SUNDERLAND centre-half Matthew Kilgallon has taken inspiration from a pair of defenders who've flourished since making the step-up from Championship football.

Joleon Lescott and Kilgallon's former Sheffield United team-mate Phil Jagielka each played more than 200 games for second tier clubs before they were handed a chance to impress at the highest level.

Both have defied critics who doubted they had the requisite qualities by becoming established Premier League performers and earning call-ups to the England team.

Kilgallon, who made his Stadium of Light debut in Monday evening's goalless encounter with Stoke City, is aiming to become the latest Championship defender to make a splash in the top flight.

As a defender I've obviously been encouraged by the likes of Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, said Kilgallon, who joined Sunderland on a three-an-a-half year contract last month.

They spent a lot of time in the Championship learning their trades, as it were, and have done ever so well in the Premier League when they got the move up to that level.

They've gone on to play for England and that is fantastic for them.

That is something I'd like to emulate. It does give you belief.

Despite Kigallon's determination to prove he possesses the ability to become a fixture in Steve Bruce's back four he admits the quality gap between first and second flight football is startling.

I could tell the difference between the Championship and the Premier League as soon as I stepped out on to the training pitch for the first time at Sunderland, reveaked Kilgallon, who hopes to help secure Sunderland's first back-to-back clean sheets of the campaign at home to Wigan on Saturday.

That's why I came to Sunderland, it's why the move appealed.

I know if I came here, I'd have an excellent chance of becoming a better player and a better centre-half. The manager as well, he played in that position and I will hopefully develop here.

I'm really happy with the decision I made. I could have stayed at Sheffield United until the summer, but it felt right as soon as I found out the manager wanted me here.

The team has been struggling a bit, but I've seen the quality we've got and we will turn it around.

It will be another pressure game for us against Wigan on Saturday but it's one we will feel we can win.

We know the fans love seeing commitment from the team and we know we really have to roll our sleeves up at the moment and I think we did that against Stoke. It's up to us to continue that.

John Mensah's hamstring injury should rule him out of Saturday's game against Wigan but Benjani, signed on deadline day from Manchester City initially on loan, is expected to start

Source: Northern_Echo