Alim Ozturk has this vow as he opens up on Sunderland struggles and comeback in wonderfully honest fashion

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For Alim Ozturk, it is time to show who he really is.

With around ten minutes to go on Friday, he had needed a minute.

Alim Ozturk returned to the Sunderland XI on Friday

Alim Ozturk returned to the Sunderland XI on Friday

Cramp in the calf and a team-mate called in to help out. Little wonder.

Ozturk had not played any senior competitive football since January 22nd, and even that had been against an U21 side.

For his last League One action, you had to go back back to December 23rd, when Ozturk came on just after half-time as Glenn Loovens saw red at Fratton Park.

So this had a been a big ask for the Turkish defender, and that is before you even consider the pressure of the game and the quality of the opponent in Doncaster Rovers striker John Marquis.

Ross had been forced to gamble after watching his side ship five against Coventry City, but he has also been steadfast in his praise of Ozturk’s application and attitude behind the scenes.

There were one or two tricky moments in the game but alongside Jimmy Dunne, he got the job done.

The 26-year-old could not hide his delight at making a telling contribution at such a key stage of the season.

“It was really enjoyable,” Ozturk said.

“My last game was January, a long time ago, I played the Checkatrade cup games but that was about once a month. I’ve tried to keep as fit as possible so when the chance came, I was ready for it. It finally came and I think I did well. “I’m very happy about that.

“The manager showed us the XI before training on Thursday, so that was nice for me to prepare myself. I’m happy about everything! The result, the clean sheet, everything.

“As a defender, first of all, it’s about keeping a clean sheet,” he added.

“It’s like scoring a goal as a striker. We defended really well, it was compact. We said to each other before the game, let them have the ball at the back, that’s not important, it’s important that when they get closer to goal. The shape then was really good and we defended well.”

Ozturk had been the first signing made by Jack Ross last summer, but his start to the season was difficult.

In pre-season and on the opening day, he had looked uncertain.

Eventually he lost his place and slipped some way down the defensive peckind order.

There have been signs, though, of the defender who made an impression at Hearts during his first stint in British football.

Important cameos from the bench to help secure wins away at AFC Wimbledon and Bradford City, while in the Checkatrade Trophy his performances continued to improve.

Ozturk said the key has been keeping himself fit and is now determined to show what he can do.

“After a period like that, you have to train well and keep as fit as possible,” he said.

“I trained very hard every day, so I can show the people what I can do. That was not me at the start of the season, I was not really fit, with injuries and stuff. I feel really good now. At the end [of the Doncaster game] it was cramp in both calves but that can happen.

“The guys who played before me, Tom Flanagan, Jack Baldwin, Glenn Loovens before as well, I think they did really well. A game like last week can happen, of course you don’t want it to but it can. Overall they’ve done really well, so I just had to wait for my chance.

“I know it was not the ideal start for me at this club, so I want to show the people who I am, and of course the confidence of the manager in giving me the chance, I think I did well.

“The manager knows me as a person. I will never give up. He knows that. I’m honest and it was not a great start for me, everyone knows that and I know that myself. I wanted to pay him back for that confidence in me and I tried to do that today.

“It is an amazing club. You can see the stadium, the training ground everything, it’s really good. It’s amazing to play for this club. In the summer when I heard that I could come here, I didn’t even think about it. So it’s time to show who I really am now.

“I feel good, I feel fit.,” he added.

“I had cramp at the end but I think this is normal after a while out.

“We’re in a good position as a team now, we don’t have to look at the other teams. It’s in our hands but there’s a long way to go still, a short period but a lot of games.”

It is now a big call for Ross as to exactly how many of those games Ozturk plays in.

A second game in four days is a big challenge for Ozturk but he has put himself in the frame for selection at Peterborough United, with the Black Cats boss praising his efforts against Doncaster.

“I was pleased for him on an individual basis, how he has conducted himself, he has worked really hard every day,” Ross said.

“When I made the decision to play him I told him early in the week, I have worked with him before, I know what he is capable of.

“I knew he would handle it psychologically, he has played in big games, physically it is a big ask, he started to fatigue towards the end.”