Pre-season is vital for emerging Colback
JACK Colback claims Sunderland's forthcoming pre-season programme will be crucial to his hopes of cementing a first-team spot next season. The Black Cats finalised their pre-season plans earlier this week when they confirmed a six-game tour of Germany that will feature matches against Arminia Bielefeld, Hannover and Borussia Monchengladbach. Having started the final six matches of last season, Colback is expected to feature heavily when Sunderland begin their preparations for the new campaign in July. And with Steve Bruce hoping to make a number of additions to his squad in the next six weeks, the Killingworth-born midfielder is determined to push himself to the forefront of his manager's mind. It's an important preseason for me, said Colback, who spent much of the early part of last season on loan at Ipswich Town. I need to keep my head down and make sure I'm in the manager's plans again because I don't want to have done what I have then fade away again. I need to push on. I want to be in the first team next year. I want to be playing Premier League football and hopefully that will be here. I want to knuckle down and prove that I am worth a place in the squad. Two summers ago, when Bruce first arrived at the Stadium of Light, Jordan Henderson performed so impressively in pre-season that the Black Cats boss felt urged to elevate him straight into the first-team squad. The youngster has not looked back since, making 38 senior appearances two seasons ago and starting 37 of Sunderland's 38 Premier League matches last term. Later this month, Henderson will be representing England in the European Under-21 Championships in Denmark, and while Colback can count himself somewhat unfortunate not to be involved in the squad, he will be looking to emulate his team-mate's rapid progress when he returns to action later this summer. I spoke to the manager before and he's always said that Jordan's the example I need to follow, said Colback. He caught his eye (in preseason) and that's what I want to do this pre-season. Jordan's been an inspiration for everyone. He's proved you can come in and be a regular. He's been fantastic this season, he was great last year and he can only go from strength to strength. Meanwhile, Sunderland youngster Jordan Cook claims a recent loan spell at Walsall aided his development significantly. Cook went to League One Walsall on loan towards the end of last season, and helped the Saddlers avoid relegation on a dramatic final day. Overall it went really well, said the 21-year-old striker, who has made three senior substitute appearances for the Black Cats. The way I saw it when I went, it was a win-win situation. I wanted to help Walsall stay up, and they achieved that. I feel like going there has definitely improved me as a player. Obviously I want to play at Premier League level, but there are still good players and teams in League One.
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