LIAM Bridcutt has thanked Gus Poyet and Sunderland Football Club for being so supportive since the difficult birth of his son three weeks ago.
And now the midfielder is hoping to get the chance to repay the kindness in the final games of the Black Cats’ Premier League campaign, starting at Manchester United tomorrow.
The former Brighton man told the Echo: “It has been a difficult few weeks for me.
“It has been tough, with things not being straightforward for my girlfriend and my son and it puts football into perspective.
“But things are looking better all round and my little boy is on the mend and I’m hugely grateful for the way the club and the manager and the lads got behind me and looked after me.
“I’ve not been at Sunderland a long time and having it brought home to you that you have a team and a manager and a club that are looking out for you and backing you, was massive to me.
“Hopefully, now that I’m back playing and available again, I can do my bit for the club to help it continue to get out of trouble.”
Having missed the games against Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea, the 24-year-old was back on the bench for last Sunday’s 4-0 defeat of Cardiff City.
He got a run-out towards the end, replacing Jack Colback a couple of minutes before Connor Wickham scored his second goal, Sunderland’s fourth of the game.
January signing Bridcutt admitted: “It was good to be back playing.
“The lads have done brilliantly over the last few weeks, getting some fantastic results, and it was good to be involved in what was another great result for us against Cardiff.”
Now the Scotland international is looking forward to tomorrow’s game at Old Trafford, saying being involved in games like tomorrow’s was why he was so eager to join Sunderland.
“I came here because I wanted to be part of the Premier League player and playing games against clubs like Manchester United are what it’s all about,” said the one-time Chelsea trainee, who never started a senior game for the Blues.
“I wanted to be involved in games against the best teams this season and, like everyone at Sunderland, I want to be part of that next season too.”
Boss Poyet is a confirmed admirer of the defensive midfielder, whom he signed for both Brighton and Sunderland, but Bridcutt knows he has his work cut out getting back into the team.
“The lads have been great in recent weeks and it won’t be easy to get back into the team,” he admitted.
“That’s how it should be.
“But I can do my part by working hard and being ready and by putting pressure on the other lads because competition keeps everyone on their toes.
“It doesn’t matter who plays in the team right now though, just so long as we keep getting points and keep out of the bottom three.”
* Don’t miss the top report and reaction from Manchester United-Sunderland tomorrow, plus the biggest and best coverage of SAFC and local football, in the online Football Echo. It’s available on this website from around 6.45pm tomorrow.