Marc McNulty is relishing this Sunderland challenge as he prepares to battle it out for a starting spot
Marc McNulty is relishing the challenge of sealing a starting spot at Sunderland - amid some heavy competition in the forward areas.
The Reading loanee could be handed a first start for the Black Cats when Oxford United visit the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
After a positive cameo off the bench against Heerenveen, the Scottish international netted a hat-trick in a behind closed doors friendly on Monday, as the Black Cats brushed aside Hartlepool United.
And while his goalscoring exploits will have done his chances of a start no harm, the 26-year-old knows competition for a starting spot against Oxford will be intense.
But McNulty believes battling it out with Will Grigg, Charlie Wyke and Benji Kimpioka can only have positive benefits.
"Of course it's a good thing,” he said. “If there's only one or two strikers, you find yourself in a comfort zone.
“The club has three quality strikers and for me you need to work hard and prove to the gaffer that you're worthy of that jersey."
McNulty’s treble against Pools certainly bodes well, especially given the striker’s own admission that is he still ‘catching up’ on pre-season preparations.
But he remains confident he will quickly get up to speed and hit top gear for his new side.
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“I'm feeling good,” admitted the striker.
“I'm sort of catching up pre-season wise, so to get some minutes against Heerenveen was good. I'm feeling pretty sharp but with a couple more games I'll be right at it.
“I've got a good weeks' training ahead so I'll be ready for the week ahead."
Should McNulty be handed a start at the Stadium of Light, he will be thrust in front of a crowd fully expecting a winning start to the season.
That, though, is not necessarily a bad thing.
"That's part and parcel of playing for this club,” said the former Coventry man. That's a good thing, in my eyes, a club that has to win every week.
“As a football player you want to win every week as well. Everyone here knows the expectations of the fans and of the manager and it's to win as many games as possible. It's a good thing.”