ANTON Ferdinand today warned Newcastle United’s free-scoring attack that he is hitting his peak after his longest run of games in a Sunderland shirt.
Only Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea have scored more goals in the Premier League this season than the Magpies, who managed five in their last top flight outing against West Ham despite being without top scorer Andy Carroll.
But after back-to-back clean sheets in the league alongside Titus Bramble at the heart of the Sunderland defence, Ferdinand (right) believes he is running into form after an injury-free run in the side.
The 25-year-old, who skippered Sunderland in Saturday’s FA Cup humiliation at the hands of Notts County, has benefited from starting each of Sunderland’s last 10 games – his longest sequence of successive outings since moving to Wearside two-and-a-half years ago.
Ferdinand said: “I’m looking forward to the derby.
“Of course it’s a boost getting a couple of wins in the Premiership going into the game.
“Hopefully I can stay injury-free because that seems to the be the only thing that has taken me out of the team in the past.
“I’m enjoying my run in the team at the moment and that’s thanks to the gaffer for putting me in.
“This is the fittest I’ve felt in a while and it’s shown in my performances.
“But most importantly I’m enjoying myself.”
Ferdinand has answered Steve Bruce’s call to arms after the Sunderland boss lost the services of Bramble, Michael Turner and John Mensah at various points over the last two months.
Sunderland’s back line has remained resolute with the Black Cats currently topping the Premier League table for clean sheets.
Bruce faces a tough decision on his hands when Turner and Mensah return from injury over whether to leave Ferdinand out.
Mensah is weeks away from recovering from an ankle injury while Turner is expected to be back next month from a knee problem.
Ferdinand added: “It’s credit to the gaffer and the coaching team because it shows the work we’ve put in defensively.
“It was one thing the gaffer wanted to improve on from last season and we’ve done that.
“It shows the quality of the players coming in that we’ve been able to keep defending well even when we’ve had to make changes.
“It’s up to the gaffer what he does when Mensah and Turner are fit.
“All I can do is keep putting in performances like I have and we’ll see what happens.”