Turner up for the fight

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.”