HE might have played a pivotal role in smoothing Sunderland’s progression to the third round of the competition, but Andy Reid has stressed that he does not want to be known as a ‘Carling Cup player’ this season.
Reid made his first start of the campaign at Norwich on Monday as the Black Cats cruised to a 4-1 victory that secured their place in tomorrow’s third-round draw.
The Republic of Ireland international scored two firsthalf goals as Steve Bruce’s side outclassed their League One opponents, providing a timely reminder of his silky midfield skills following a frustrating start to the season.
Reid’s only involvement in the opening three league games was a six-minute substitute appearance against Chelsea, and while he was delighted to be recalled to the starting line-up on Monday, he does not want to be known as a member of Sunderland’s shadow squad.
“With the greatest of respect to Norwich, and the greatest of respect to the Carling Cup, I don’t want to be playing in Carling Cup games,” said the 27-year-old Dubliner. “I want to be playing in the Premier League games on a Saturday.
“But you can only perform on the platform you are given.
The platform on Monday was in the Carling Cup against Norwich, and I feel that I delivered and showed the manager what I can do.
“It’s up to the manager to pick his team. I’m not going to do the manager’s job and tell him what to do, and I’m sure he wouldn’t listen even if I tried. All I can say is that I want to play in every game, I don’t care who it’s against. I don’t care if it’s against Norwich, Stoke, Liverpool or Manchester United. It doesn’t really matter to me. I know the qualities that I have and I believe I can go on and perform against anybody.”
Reid’s route to the first team is currently being blocked by Kieran Richardson, but while the former Manchester United midfielder impressed in Sunderland’s pre-season programme, he has failed to hit the heights in the opening three league games.
Richardson has been hampered by the dead leg he sustained at Bolton, and while he is likely to retain his place for Saturday’s trip to Stoke, Reid could hardly have done more to press his own claims for a starting spot.
The Irishman, who has lost around nine pounds in weight this summer, appeared svelte in comparison to the rotund figure that joined Sunderland in January 2008, and his energy and willingness to track back was almost as impressive as the sublime finishing skills that earned him his two goals.
With the likes of Craig Gordon, Teemu Tainio, Grant Leadbitter and Fraizer Campbell also catching the eye on their first starts of the campaign, Bruce could have some difficult decisions to make as he attempts to juggle a squad that is already looking like Sunderland’s strongest for a number of seasons.
“I think the current squad is the strongest that I’ve seen during my time at Sunderland,”
agreed Reid. “We have a big squad now. If you compare the team that played on Saturday to the team that played on Monday, it was very different. But if you look at the quality and professionalism that was on display at Norwich, it can only bode well.
“I think I’ll have given the manager something to think about, and a few of the other lads will be thinking the same. Hopefully, I’ve given him a problem. It’s a good problem, and a problem he’ll want to have, but I think there’s maybe four or five players who performed brilliantly.
As long as we keep doing that, the manager will be hard pressed to leave us out.”