SUNDERLAND 10 YEARS AGO: Keeper on Norwich return, Roy Keane’s key to success

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago today.

WARD HAPPY TO TAKE CENTRE STAGE

Black Cats keeper aims to impress on City return

Darren Ward returns to Norwich with Sunderland tomorrow insisting he has no regrets over a Carrow Road move that turned out to be two wasted years in his career.

Injury and the form of England goalkeeper Robert Green restricted the experienced stopper to only one start two substitute appearances in his two seasons in Norfolk before joining the Black Cats,

And now he is looking forward to finally showing the Norwich fans exactly what he is capable of as Sunderland look for a positive response to their midweek hone defeat to Cardiff City.

Ward said: “I will also be grateful to Nigel Worthington for the opportunity he gave me at Norwich. When I signed for them it was on the understanding that Robert Green would probably be leaving Carrow Road in the January, or last summer at the latest.

“But it didn’t happen and with him in the picture with England, it was always going to be an uphill task for me.

“It was a disappointing two years in my career, but I have no regrets about the move. As a family, we were very happy down there. It’s a beautiful place and a good club and we made friends inside outside the club that we are still in touch with.

“I’m looking forward to revisiting, but it will only be a good trip for me if we get something out of the game.”

CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS – KEANE

Sunderland travel to Norwich this weekend with manager Roy Keane drumming into his players the importance of consistency.

Sunderland lost in midweek to Cardiff City after going into the game posting back-to-back wins.

And the boom and bust cycle has been a feature of the club’s form since the Manchester United legend took control of the club.

But Keane told the Echo today that although it is a feature of the Championship, the successful teams will be those that can put genuine winning runs together.

He said: “It’s very frustrating for all managers in this division because inconsistency seem to be the order of the day. It’s not just Sunderland, it’s lots of teams – Norwich City, for example, are just like ourselves.

“We play them this weekend and they too have got a few good results but then a few bad ones. We played Cardiff midweek and came into the game off the back of a couple of good wins thinking we might get our third and really start to make an impact.

“But we are all disappointed because we thought we had an opportunity on the night that we didn’t take. And I have told my players that we’ve got to look for consistency.

“We’ve got to look to make sure that if we don’t win a game we’ve got to make sure that we don’t lose it either, that we dig in and grind something out because it’s all about getting results to build on.

“The game against Norwich City tomorrow will be a tough one but they like to play football and I’m expecting a good footballing game. They are just below us in the table so their incentive will be that they can leapfrog over us.

“But we want to get back to winning ways and if we can get a result down there it will get us back on track.”

Keane will be boosted by the fact that the three players who came back from injury mid-week – Graham Kavanagh, Stephen Elliott and Steve Caldwell – are all fit and available for selection this weekend.

David Connolly, who tweaked a hamstring earlier in the week, has recovered well and could come into contention. Nyron Nosworthy has begun running again following his hamstring strain, but the Norwich game could come too soon for him.

With Neill Collins having gone to Wolves on loan, Sunderland are short for a right-back, should Nosworthy not recover. But Roy Keane said that one option remains Dean Whitehead, who is prepared to be a stop-gap right-back to help the side.