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Turner up for Black Cats battle
Published : 18 Oct 2010 07:59:00
Michael Turner is happy to fight for his place in Sunderland's miserly defence as they attempt to build on an impressive start to the season. The 26-year-old returned from injury to take his place in the Black Cats' rearguard for the trip to Liverpool on September 25 and was a key figure in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United at the Stadium of Light a week later. Steve Bruce's men, who head for Blackburn this evening, have conceded only seven goals in their seven Barclays Premier League games to date, and with Arsenal and United having already played on Wearside either side of the trip to Anfield, that is a creditable return. The fact that it has been achieved by a defence in which Turner, Titus Bramble, John Mensah, Anton Ferdinand, Paulo da Silva, Nedum Onuoha, Kieran Richardson and Phil Bardsley have already appeared in front of second-choice keeper Simon Mignolet makes it all the more noteworthy. Turner said: "Hopefully I will be in the back four for long parts of the season. John Mensah, Paulo and Anton are all fighting for the same position, so there is huge competition. "But that's a good thing, I feel, to be kept on your toes and to know you need to put in a good performance to keep your shirt." While the personnel in front of him may have changed repeatedly during the opening weeks of the campaign, Belgian Mignolet has been a fixture with £9million man Craig Gordon fighting his way back from an arm fracture. The 22-year-old, a summer signing from St Truiden, was pitched in when Bruce decided not to bring in another keeper following Gordon's latest injury blow in pre-season, and he has grown in stature as the weeks have gone on. He is ever-present and was preferred to the fit-again Scotland international for the United game. Turner said: "He has done very well. He was thrown in at the deep end a little but he has shown what he is all about. "He is only young and he looks to have a huge future in the Premier League. "With Craig back now breathing down his neck, we have got two top-class goalkeepers vying for the number one spot." Whoever plays at the back tonight, they know exactly what to expect from Sam Allardyce's combative side. Turner said: "That's what we are going to have to deal with if we want to get anything from the game. "There are going to be plenty of balls thrown into our box and we are really going to have to get our tin hats on and batter everything away. "But hopefully we can continue the way we have been playing because we have been in great form."