Exclusive: Sunderland's Alim Ozturk recalls conversation with Phil Parkinson after being dropped for Bailey Wright
Sunderland defender Alim Ozturk says he had to remain professional after being dropped by manager Phil Parkinson.
The 27-year-old centre-back had started nine successive league games before the arrival of January signing Bailey Wright.
Wright has been selected for the Black Cats’ last five games but will be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks after suffering a serious ankle injury in the 1-0 win over Oxford.
Ozturk came off the bench at the Kassam Stadium and says he had to react following a disagreement with his manager.
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“He spoke to me when Bailey came in,” Ozturk told the Echo when asked about his conversation with Parkinson. “He has his opinion, I have my opinion and that’s what it is so I don’t want to spend too much time on that.
“It happened, I wasn’t happy with it but it’s the choice of the gaffer and you have to respect that and I did.
“I worked hard every training session and I waited for my chance. I didn’t play for three weeks but I will be ready as always. That’s always been what I’ve done since I’ve been here.
Wright’s injury means Ozturk is likely to start against Bristol Rovers this weekend, yet it’s not the way he wanted to return.
“I feel sorry for him,” said Ozturk when asked about Wright’s injury. “That’s not the way you want to come back into the team, if you come back into the team.
“It’s not nice for him and I don’t know exactly how bad it is.”
The Black Cats are up to fifth in League One and are just three points off leaders Rotherham.
And following three successive victories, Ozturk is targeting automatic promotion this season.
“That’s what we wanted at the start of the season,” added the defender. “We were a bit off it but we are back in the game now, the last month every game will be like a final so we will see game by game.
“It starts on Saturday with Bristol Rovers so hopefully we can finish in the top two and be done earlier.”