NEDUM Onuoha says he would not be surprised if Sunday’s game between his parent club and current club proves to be one of Sunderland’s games of the season.
The full-back is unavailable for the Black Cats’ televised visit to Manchester City, despite now being fully fit, because Premier League rules forbid a loan player to compete against the club which owns his permanent contract.
But he says he’s still relishing the game itself because both sides have everything to play for and he’s looking forward to being at Eastlands in person on Sunday to watch the drama unfold.
Onuoha told the Echo: “It’s strange because I don’t really look forward to the games that I’m not personally involved in – to me, it’s all about playing.
“But I am looking forward to this one because I think it’s so important to both sides and, for that reason, it could be a very exciting match.
“There are only eight games to the end of the season and neither side are really competing in terms of the really big issues in the division – the title or fighting off relegation – but it’s still a massive game for both teams.
“For Sunderland, it’s the last of the really big teams we face this season and we’ll want to get a good result to set us up for the remaining seven games, where we’ll either be evens or favourites to win.
“We’ve had our worst set of results of the season in the last couple of months and we know we need to turn that around.
“As for Manchester City, they’re having a solid enough season by their standards, but, for them now, it’s all about finishing in a Champions League position.
“They are going to want to get another three points in the bag this Sunday and, just as importantly, they’re going to want to bounce back to winning ways, especially with their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United on the horizon – they’re going to want to be on form for that.
“So both teams have everything to play for, both teams see it as a game that’s there to be won and I just have a feeling we might see quite a game.”
Sunderland and Manchester City produced quite a game when they met at the Stadium of Light back in August.
The home side won the Premier League match 1-0 thanks to a last-gasp Darren Bent penalty in a gane chiefly remembered for Carlos Tevez’s miss of the season midway through the first half when Manchester City’s Argentinian star shot wide of an open goal.
Onuoha recalls: “That was an important game for Sunderland, too – the first win of the season – and it kick-started a good run for the club.
“Perhaps a win on Sunday might do the same again and set the club up nicely for the run-in.
“I’ve been given the day off by Sunderland, but I plan to be there somewhere inside the ground on Sunday – probably in one of the boxes – before hopefully getting back on the pitch in the games after that.”