Jack Baldwin confident he’s done enough to be in Sunderland’s Wembley starting XI for biggest game of his career
Jack Baldwin hopes he has done enough to win a spot in Sunderland’s Checkatrade Trophy final XI, but expects Jack Ross to pick from a ‘blank canvas’ a week of training before the game.
Baldwin dropped down the pecking order after an indifferent run of form at the turn of the year, with Jimmy Dunne arriving on loan from Burnley to add extra competition at the heart of defence.
But an injury to Tom Flanagan gave Baldwin a chance and on a tough night to defend at Barnsley, the centre-back excelled.
He kept his place for the 2-1 win over Walsall so will have high hopes of getting the nod against Porstmouth.
“The manager will field what he feels is his strongest team inn the cup final.
“I would like to think I have given him some positive thoughts on me from the last couple of games, but when we get back on the training ground it will be a blank canvas.
“It has been a tough couple of league games conditions wise, the strength and depth we have at the club in a number of positions, five centre-backs for example, it is an even more competitive place than it was at the start of the season,” he added.
“You just have to keep going, work hard and hope to start. In the tough conditions at Barnsley in particular I felt I done well.”
With Wembley set to be sold out for the final, it will be the biggest crowd Baldwin has ever played in front of.
He is relishing the prospect and thinks the pressure will suit the Sunderland squad.
“Whatever the competition is, to say you have played in a crowd that big at Wembley, hopefully we will win, then it is going to be an occasion, especially when you think this club has had a bad couple of seasons,” Baldwin said.
“It should be a great occasion and one people here might not have had for a while. It’s a final and a chance to go there and try to celebrate.
“I have not had that many huge games [in my career], in my first season at Peterborough we got to the play-off semi-finals.
“We came off the wrong side of those. I felt like I did well in those but it would be nice to come off the winning side this time.
“We had the Boxing Day crowd here, that’s probably the biggest I have played in front of,” he added.
“It will be double that at Wembley. I would like to think we have a squad of players who can rise to the occasions.”