Sunderland’s Ki insists: Stick with me!

Sunderland's Ki Sung-Yeung.
Sunderland's Ki Sung-Yeung.
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KI SUNG-YEUNG hopes to hold off the challenge of the returning Lee Cattermole to remain Sunderland’s midfield linchpin.

Referee Kevin Friend’s decision to send off Sunderland centre-half Wes Brown completely overshadowed Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Stoke City, yet there was another assured display from Ki, who has been a pivotal figure in the three games since Cattermole was dismissed at Hull City earlier this month.

Cattermole will return to contention for next weekend’s trip to Aston Villa after completing his suspension and will rival the South Korean for a starting spot as the holding player in Gus Poyet’s midfield.

But Ki says he has revelled with the responsibility of being Sunderland’s playmaker and the on-loan Swansea man insists he is enjoying Poyet’s brand of football.

“There’s a bit of competition with Lee coming back,” he told the Echo. “But in any position there should be competition so it’s going to be good to push each other.

“The way we’re trying to play suits me. It’s the way I like to play. As everyone has seen over the last few games, we can pass the ball well, even under pressure. We proved that in the Man City match. But we need to keep going to get some good results.

“It’s not easy playing in that role. We try to keep it simple, but there’s a responsibility to get the ball from the back and give it to the strikers or wingers.

“It’s not easy, but I’m trying to help this team to be better.”

It was Friend’s decision to dismiss Brown – for a perfectly-timed challenge on Charlie Adam – which hogged the spotlight after Saturday’s defeat though.

Sunderland’s players were flabbergasted by the sending off which changed the entire complexion of what had been an intriguingly poised encounter.

Ki said: “I can’t believe Wes Brown got sent off. I don’t think it was a red card. It changed the game and it’s very hard to play with 10 players against 11.

“We’d done quite well in the first half before we conceded and then the sending off. Everyone thought the same about the decision.

“We looked at the video afterwards and it was a good tackle.”

Ki feels that a fifth successive defeat was a squandered opportunity though, despite Brown’s dismissal.

Sunderland had been on top before Adam broke the deadlock for the Potters, yet failed to make the most of their domination with Steven Fletcher spurning an early clear-cut chance for Poyet’s men.

“Saturday was an opportunity. It’s a big game that we’ve lost,” added Ki.

“Even though we were playing an away game, I think we settled well in the first half and created some good chances, so I’m very disappointed. But it’s a game we should have won, or at least drawn, so it’s very disappointing.”