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.”