Billy crystal clear on his Sunderland target

Billy Jones

Billy Jones

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BILLY JONES hopes he can secure Sunderland’s right-back spot during pre-season, regardless of further arrivals before the transfer deadline.

Bosman signing Jones is due to make his first appearance in Sunderland colours in tomorrow’s pre-season opener against Darlington 1883, with the 27-year-old currently the only full-back on the books of the first-team squad.

That is a situation Jones fully expects to change over the remaining six weeks of the transfer window.

Sunderland are hopeful of re-signing last season’s loanees Santiago Vergini and Marcos Alonso after making a second offer for the latter earlier this week – a deal which would see centre-back Modibo Diakite move in the opposite direction to Fiorentina in a part-exchange.

But while Sunderland are waiting to make further summer captures, Jones realises he has an opportunity to rubber-stamp his place in the side for the Premier League opener at his former club West Brom on August 16.

“It’s a chance for me to establish myself at right-back – that’s the objective for me,” said Jones.

“I know the club is working hard to add more strength in depth, as every Premier League team is, so there will be competition for places.

“But hopefully, to start with, the right-back shirt will be mine to lose.

“I can play on both sides. I’ve played at left-back for Preston and I’ve also played there in the Premier League – I actually made my debut for West Brom on the left.

“I do see my best position as right-back, but, if needs must, I’ve got no problem filling in on the left.”

He added: “It is strange when you don’t know the final make-up of the squad, but it is exciting too.

“This is an ambitious club and they want to bring in as many quality players as they can.

“Players thrive on being part of a competitive Premier League squad and it makes for successful seasons.”

Jones became Sunderland’s first summer signing when he agreed a four-year deal at the Stadium of Light after the end of his contract at West Brom.

The former Crewe and Preston defender was offered the chance to remain at The Hawthorns, but insists he had already made up his mind to join Sunderland.

“By the time West Brom made an official offer, I had already spoken to Sunderland and I’d heard what the gaffer wanted from me and how he wanted the team to play, so I was leaning towards coming here,” he added.

“As a player, there’s nothing better than feeling wanted and I definitely felt that from Sunderland and from the gaffer.

“So, even though I was settled at West Brom, once I had had talks with Sunderland my mind was virtually made up and now I can’t wait to get started with the pre-season games.”