Jack Rodwell has revealed that he sees his long-term future at centre-back and is targeting a permanent switch in positions.
The 25-year-old has struggled in Sunderland’s midfield since his £10million move from Manchester City two years ago.
But he has proved his versatility in pre-season, filling in at right-back as well as central defence as he looks to revive his career under David Moyes.
Rodwell is happy to play in any position for now but over the next couple of seasons he is targeting a move back to centre-half – his boyhood position.
Moyes gave Rodwell his break as a 16-year-old when the pair were at Everton – and the midfielder believes the Scot is the man to unlock his potential.
“Yeah, I think he can,” Rodwell told the Echo when asked whether Moyes can get the best out of him.
“I do believe I am naturally a centre-half, but whether he chooses to play me there this season, or if he starts me in midfield, then he knows I can fill those other positions.
“That is good for me and the team.
“He knows I can fill in at right-back now too.
“Hopefully, ideally within the next few years, I would like to step back to centre-half, whether it is this season or not, I am happy to play anywhere for the team.
“The manager has played me right-back and centre-back and I have played midfield too.
“He knows me well, has known me since I broke through at 16 and I can play those positions and feel comfortable; I was a natural centre-back.
“Wherever he wants me to play though, I am happy to play.”
Right-back Billy Jones is expected to recover from a hip injury to be fit for the curtain raiser against Manchaster City at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
If he doesn’t make it, though, Rodwell looks set to start.
“I have played across the back four during my career,” added Rodwell, who started at right-back in Friday night’s 1-1 friendly draw with Borussia Dortmund.
“I have played all across the midfield too – the only positions I haven’t played is up front and in goal!
“Wherever I play, I am comfortable.”
Rodwell is enjoying working under Moyes again, and he believes the Scot is the manager capable of steering Sunderland away from relegation trouble.
“Yes, not just on a personal note but also I know what he can do for the team and I know how strong his work ethic is,” when asked if Moyes would have been his pick as manager.
“He is so dedicated and that is why he has been successful.
“The last few seasons have been a struggle, scraping around the last few games and that is not what we want. This manager won’t have that.
“He will put in the work to make sure that we are not there and that is what we need.”
Sunderland concluded their pre-season programme with a spirited 1-1 draw against Dortmund in Austria.
Rodwell, who played right-back in the first half before moving into midfield, says it showed Sunderland’s grit ahead of the Premier League match against his former club.
“Pre-season is all about minutes, everyone knows that, but it shows we have the grittiness to remain unbeaten and it was our first real test,” added Rodwell.
“We are all feeling fit and we are all looking forward to Saturday, especially on a personal note for me – Manchester City away.
“It won’t be easy, we know that, but we have shown we can manage results.”