RYAN NOBLE would have preferred to be challenging for a first-team spot at Sunderland with a prolific Championship loan spell under his belt.
But the 19-year-old striker hopes to benefit from an upturn in his fortunes by making only his second Premier League appearance at Arsenal tomorrow.
Noble was sent on a month’s loan to Championship Derby County earlier in the season with Rams boss Nigel Clough keen to keep the 19-year-old at Pride Park for an extended spell.
A stress fracture to his back restricted his appearances to a solitary outing from the bench though and he spent the following three months on the treatment table.
But with Sunderland strikers Danny Welbeck and Fraizer Campbell only returning to training this week, Noble has provided an option to Black Cats boss Steve Bruce as back-up to Asamoah Gyan.
After making his Premier League bow at Everton last weekend, Noble is hoping for another chance at the Emirates.
Noble told the Echo: “I wanted to go to Derby and score goals and prove to the manager (Bruce) that I can do well at a good level.
“If I’d done that, I could have come back and fought for a place in the first-team.
“I was hoping to extend the loan at Derby when I was there, but it didn’t happen and I got a really bad injury which was a huge setback. It was a stress fracture so it happened over a period of time and got to the stage where I couldn’t play anymore.
“I’ve got to keep my head in the right place and keep scoring.
“I suppose it’s a route to the first team for me with other people out injured. Hopefully I can get in a few more squads.
“Sometimes it takes injuries for you to get your chance. When you get there, you’ve just got to take it.”
Noble is expected to start on the bench again tomorrow after turning out and scoring for Sunderland’s reserves yesterday.
The Millfield-born striker is desperate to make what would be just the fourth senior appearance of his career and help Sunderland end their four-game losing streak.
“It would be massive to play at the Emirates, but I have to take it one game at a time and see what I can do,” he said. “I need to just play as many games in the reserves as I can to build up my fitness and confidence with goals.
“Hopefully I can show the manager what I can do and get my name on the squad list as much as possible.
“Everyone is still confident and there’s a good atmosphere in the dressing room. Performances before Saturday had been good so hopefully results will take care of themselves over the next few games.
“Everyone will be bang at it again for Arsenal so hopefully we can get a good result.”