MICHAEL TURNER hopes his budding partnership with Matt Kilgallon can flourish after hailing the character of the born-again Sunderland centre-half.
Turner started alongside Kilgallon for the first time since May 2010 at Manchester City last weekend, as the latter returned to the fold after a two-and-a-half month absence.
The duo impressed in neutralising the threat of City’s multi-million pound attack until Sunderland conceded twice in quick succession within minutes of Kilgallon being removed through cramp.
But fully fit Kilgallon is set to continue alongside Turner against Spurs tomorrow, with John O’Shea, Wes Brown and Titus Bramble still sidelined and on-loan Sotirios Kyrgiakos struggling against Everton 10 days ago.
Turner, who had previously formed an impressive double act with O’Shea, is confident of equal success alongside Kilgallon, with the ex-Sheffield United man back in first-team contention after finding himself frozen out under Steve Bruce.
“It was going well with John, but he’s obviously picked up a bit of an injury,” said Turner.
“Kyrgiakos came in and played and then Kilgallon did a good job on Saturday.
“Matt came in after the Christmas period and did a great job before he, unfortunately, got injured.
“But every time I’ve played with him since he’s been here, the partnership’s looked fairly solid.
“We’ve not played that many games together, but, when we have, we’ve felt comfortable alongside each other.
“Whether or not that continues remains to be seen, but all credit to him coming in against one of the best teams in the league and playing so well.
“To be fair, he’s trained every day and not moaned. He’s a great professional and he’s shown that over recent weeks.”
Turner and Kilgallon will have to be on their guard against Spurs, with only the top three scoring more goals this season than Harry Redknapp’s fourth-placed side.
Boyhood Spurs fan Turner watched tomorrow’s opponents end a five-game winless streak against Swansea last weekend and expects the visitors to fulfil their Champions League ambitions at the end of the season.
“I followed Spurs when I was younger and they’re obviously a team on the up now,” added the 28-year-old.
“It’s going to be a hugely tough game. They look a good bet for the top four. They had a few draws and lost a couple, but they’ve got good players and, from watching a bit of their game last Sunday, they performed well and they’ll be confident facing us.
“They’ve got good players all over the pitch. Up front, they can score goals and create chances.
“We know we’ll have to defend well to get anything out of the game.
“It should be an interesting contest and one that we’re all looking forward to.”