MATT Kilgallon hopes to remain a fixture in the Sunderland starting XI until the conclusion of a season he does not want to end.
Kilgallon again impressed at centre-half alongside Michael Turner in Saturday’s stalemate with Spurs after his second coming as a Sunderland player continued.
It was the 28-year-old’s fifth appearance under Martin O’Neill after he had been frozen out under former boss Steve Bruce and told he was allowed to join any interested Championship clubs on trial.
Kilgallon, who saw his first run under O’Neill halted by an ankle injury, admits he is relishing every opportunity after returning to the side at Manchester City nine days ago, with injuries to John O’Shea, Wes Brown and Titus Bramble likely to see the former Leeds man continue in defence.
“I don’t want the season to end at all,” said Kilgallon.
“Fingers crossed, I can keep doing as well as I can, stay away from injury and hopefully keep my shirt.
“It’d be nice to get into double figures in games before the season finishes, considering I was on my way out and nowhere near at one point.
“That’s hard to take when you know you think you’re good enough to be involved.
“But the gaffer’s come in and it’s a clean slate and a fresh chance for everyone.
“I kept myself fit even when I was training with the reserves and football’s a funny game.
“I just want to stay in for the rest of the season now and then it’ll be a good year for me.”
The weekend’s draw was Sunderland’s second successive point against top four opposition, although it could have been even more after the Black Cats surrendered a two-goal lead at Manchester City.
But Kilgallon says Sunderland can be content with their spoils after earning a deserved draw with Spurs in a game where both defences were on top.
“We want to finish as high in the league as we can,” he said.
“At one point in the season we were really struggling and now we’re doing so well we don’t want to throw it away – it’d just be daft, really.
“We’re probably disappointed we haven’t got more from the last two games, which is always a nice thing to have.
“But before the games, we would have probably taken two points. Given the way we’ve been playing lately, it could easily have been a few more. But we’re happy in the dressing room.”
The York-born defender added: “We worked hard to stop Spurs getting the ball and getting their key players involved.
“We’ve done really well again against a really top team and they didn’t cause us that many problems.
“Both teams cancelled each other out, but they’re going for third place and the Champions League and they’ve not really worried us.
“They brought on all the big guns – (Jermain) Defoe, (Louis) Saha and (Aaron) Lennon – but we dealt with them.”