Colback keen to keep Sunderland place after O’Neill arrival

Jack Colback

Jack Colback

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JACK COLBACK is eager to remain at the forefront of Martin O’Neill’s thoughts as the rivalry for central midfield spots hots up.

Colback started the first game of the O’Neill era last weekend, with the 22-year-old making more appearances this season than any of his fellow middle men.

But with skipper Lee Cattermole back from suspension and fit-again Craig Gardner, who broke through the ranks at Aston Villa under O’Neill, back in contention to face Spurs on Sunday, the competition is again fierce for spots in the engine room.

Colback knows a new manager brings fresh ideas after being part of the first-team squad when Steve Bruce was appointed as Black Cats boss.

But this is the first time the Tynesider has been part of the starting XI during a managerial change and realises the onus is on him to make a positive impression on O’Neill.

Colback told the Echo: “It’s been different with the new manager.

“Obviously I experienced it when Steve came and Roy (Keane) went so it’s always a strange time.

“But it’s been good. All the players are working hard to try to impress him.

“When you’re playing in the team and the new manager comes in, you know you need to impress.

“Fortunately I started last Sunday and it’s something I want to continue under the new manager.”

Colback insists Sunderland’s players have had a spring in their step at the Academy of Light this week after recording a first win in six against Blackburn Rovers last weekend.

And they will hope to take that renewed self-belief to White Hart Lane, as the Black Cats chase back-to-back wins for the first time since January.

“The way we won it late on against Blackburn was probably the best way we could have,” he added.

“It raised the spirits and everyone was buzzing and there’s still a buzz going around.

“The lads are a lot more confident now and it’s showed in training.

“A win brings that confidence, that’s what happens when you get three points – everyone gets a massive lift.

“But in training before that, we’ve always been positive and we’ve got the players in the squad who can improve the situation we’re in.”