'It’s like a different level': Carl Winchester reveals his thoughts on the Sunderland fans and playing at right-back
Carl Winchester says Sunderland’s support is on a different level to anything he’s experienced before and has praised the Black Cats’ ‘outstanding’ supporters.
Lee Johnson’s side played in front of a crowd of 31,549 for their League One opener against Wigan, and have been backed by large away followings at MK Dons and Burton this season.
After joining the club from Forest Green in January, Winchester’s first experiences as a Sunderland player came in behind-closed-doors fixtures, yet the 28-year-old believes the supporters have given everyone a lift.
“It was outstanding, I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” said Winchester when asked about that opening day win against Wigan at the Stadium of Light.
“I’d heard about it coming to Sunderland and last season I didn’t really get the experience but this season it’s unbelievable, it’s what you dream of playing in front of 30,000 and I thought they were outstanding.”
Sunderland suffered their first defeat of the season as they were beaten 1-0 at Burton, yet, despite the result, the Black Cats were applauded off by the away crowd following an admirable performance.
While Winchester knew about Sunderland’s’ passionate supporters before his move to Wearside, the Northern Irishman admits it has exceeded his expectations.
“I’ve heard about it but when you come out here and experience it it’s like a different level, it’s just brilliant,” he added.
“They are passionate about the team and I’m someone who grew up like that as a kid about football so I know what it means to them so I will just go out there and try to give it my all for them.
“I feel like it gives you a lift 100 per cent, it does because you know you have a lot of people behind you and you don’t want to let them down so you just have to go out there and I feel you just have to give it your all.”
Winchester has been forced to play at right-back for Sunderland’s first three league games, moving from his more familiar midfield role.
It’s not a completely unnatural position, and the 28-year-old did play at full-back during his seven-year spell at Oldham, when Lee Johnson was his manager.
When asked about playing right-back, Winchester referenced Luke O’Nien’s role last season and the importance of being a team player.
"It’s one of them ones, you have to do a job for the team,” said Winchester. “You saw Luke last season he did a job for the team and I thought he was excellent so I’m just happy to do a job for the team.
“It’s different but as a professional you have to adapt to different situations and the staff have been brilliant
“Even the lads helping me out when I’m playing in a back four, they talk me through the game.
“I haven’t played there in a while but when you have a lot of people behind you talking to you they make it a lot easier.”
When asked if he sees himself moving back into midfield this campaign, Winchester replied: “I’m not sure. I will just see what happens in the transfer window but I’m just happy to be playing.”