Count me in, says Cat Colback

The 21-year-old academy graduate was handed his first league start

for the club at Birmingham last Saturday as injuries and a dismal

run of results forced Bruce into yet another reshuffle. Colback did

not let his manager down with an assured display, although he could

not prevent the Black Cats slipping to a 2-0 defeat, the club’s

eighth in nine games. Bruce hopes to have senior men Kieran

Richardson and Sulley Muntari back for Saturday’s vital clash with

Wigan, who gave their own hopes of avoiding the drop a significant

boost with a 3-1 win at Blackpool last weekend. However, whether

they make it or not, Colback is ready to roll up his sleeves once

again in the hunt for precious points. Sunderland face the Latics

and then Fulham at the Stadium of Light in their next two games,

and while their own fans have grown increasingly restless in recent

weeks, the midfielder knows that would change instantly with two

positive results. Colback, who was born and raised on Tyneside, but

has spent his formative years in football on Wearside, said: “You

feel the passion of the crowd every time you play, and it’s great

to be playing for your hometown club, so to speak. “I have been

here since I was 10, so it’s as good as, so it’s just great to play

for them. “It’s just unfortunate the way it has been going at the

minute. “We need to try to turn it around, and with two home games

coming up… “The way the league has gone this year, it looks all

doom and gloom now, but two wins and we could be back in the top 10

and everyone forgets about the past eight or nine games.” Colback’s

opportunities on Wearside have been limited, but he cut his teeth

in first-team football in the Championship on loan at Ipswich last

season and returned to Portman Road during the first half of the

current campaign. Bruce had no option but to turn to youth at

Birmingham with the 21-year-old and Jordan Henderson and Danny

Welbeck, both 20, helping to give the starting XI an average age of

a little more than 23. Colback said: “Obviously, it’s not the type

of situation you want to come into as a young player, but everyone

has got to stick together. “It’s good to see when you look around

and there are faces you have come up with. “The manager has proved

that he will give you a chance if you impress him, as he has done

with Jordan and David Meyler. “But you just need to come up with no

fear anyway. It’s a bad situation to be in, but it’s great

experience.” Bruce’s problems continued this week when keeper Craig

Gordon and striker Fraizer Campbell both underwent knee surgery

which will sideline them for lengthy periods as the pressure

mounted on the manager. In the circumstances, he could do without a

genuine six-pointer against the club he left to head for Wearside

almost two years ago, but he was in bullish mood as he prepared to

attempt to win over his detractors once again. Bruce said: “Make no

mistake, that’s why this is a difficult job, because we have a huge

following of fans who have stayed loyal to this club year in and

year out. “They are a fantastic bunch and they love their football

club, so we need to produce a performance for them so they can be

pleased on Saturday night to say the team has shown what they are

all about. “Who knows, if we win on Saturday, I might be flavour of

the month again.”