Sunderland midfielder Max Power reveals how he intends to put turbulent start behind him ahead of Walsall return

Max Power.
Max Power.
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Max Power wants to get back to his natural game and put a turbulent start to the season behind him.

The 25-year-old returns to Walsall with Sunderland in the FA Cup this afternoon, the scene of his third red card of the season last weekend.

Power was facing a five-game suspension until the ban was overturned 48-hours later - to the relief of the ex-Wigan Athletic midfielder, who has spoken openly about the toughest spell of his career.

He returns to the Banks’s Stadium today and Power is determined to get back to his natural game quickly, insisting he is a ‘ball-player rather than a tackler’.

Prior to joining Sunderland in the summer, Power had never had a red card in his career.

Jack Ross unveiled a new-look 4-3-1-2 system for the 4-2 win over Barnsley, Power impressing in the holding role in front of the back four.

Power admitted Tuesday’s game was ‘strange’ given the turbulent few days in the run up to the game but he is just relieved to be playing and not facing another spell in the stands.

When asked how he would approach today’s game at Walsall, Power said: “I don’t know. I guess I’ll see how I feel.

“It was strange on Tuesday. I spoke to the referee before the game and just said I’d try not to give him any decisions to make.

“I’ve had that ref (Andy Madley) a few times and I’ve got a good relationship with him.

“No disrespect to Saturday’s ref, who’s relatively new and when you’ve got half the ground as away fans and it’s Walsall’s biggest game of the season, most away games are an occasion, as are most games at the Stadium of Light.

“I want to get back to how I want to play. I’m not saying I’m going to go around on Saturday kicking people, of course not.

“That’s not my game, I like to get on the ball.

“I like to think I’m a ball-player rather than a tackler but I’ve had three incidents where I’ve been punished and luckily I rectified the last one.”

This weekend is a welcome break from a relentless League One campaign, with the Black Cats second following the impressive win over promotion rivals Barnsley in midweek.

Sunderland return to Walsall targeting a cup win and Power believes Ross’ side are well placed to extend their 14-game unbeaten run.

He added: “We showed a bit of everything in the end. In the first spell it compared with Scunthorpe and Saturday at the start, which made it so disappointing.

“The lads were physically and mentally tired and Goochy’s put a real shift in playing a role in midfield getting out to the full-backs and I was really pleased he got his goal.

“It was a real team performance, a gritty performance in a big game. Come the end of the season no one remembers performances at all, they look at where you finish in the league.”