page 1
page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
page 7
page 8
page 9
page 10
page 11
page 12
page 13
page 14
page 15
page 16
page 17
page 18
page 19
page 20
page 21
page 22
page 23
page 24
page 25
page 26
page 27
page 28
page 29
page 30
page 31
page 32
page 33
page 34
page 35
page 36

CRAIG GORDONBACK WITH THE FIRST TEAMCraig Gordon is desperate to make up for lost time after being plunged back into Sunderland's fight for Premiership survival. The 27-year-old spent 11 frustrating weeks on the sidelines after breaking his arm in a collision with Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe.backpage images

SPRING 201019It was a fracture to the ulna bone which is the outside of the two that form your forearm," says Gordon. "It was slightly displaced and they had to operate to put the bone back together. At the moment there's a titanium plate on the outside of the bone with 6 screws in it, this will be taken out in the summer."For Gordon a spell on the sidelines is nothing new, he spent three months out with a knee injury last season. While he could be forgiven for bemoaning his bad luck, it isn't something he dwells on. He said:"I don't really think about it, you just get on with the rehab and try to come back as quickly as possible. To start with there wasn't a great deal I could do, I was swimming and playing a bit of table tennis, just things I could do to keep my fitness up." Road to recoveryThe recovery went well and he was ready to return ahead of schedule, but playing competitive football again meant having to protect the injured arm. "The surgeon wants me to wear something to protect it for at least for the first year," he says. "There was nothing out there so my kit manufacturer, Sells Goalkeeper Products, worked on a couple of designs and eventually came up with something that offered enough protection but wasn't too big. It doesn't restrict the movement and is quite comfortable."The injury came at a particularly bad time for Gordon and the club. He was playing some of his best football and Sunderland looked like outside contenders for Europe. However, the ensuing months saw Steve Bruce's side pay a heavy price for injuries, not just to their keeper, but a number of other first team regulars, with the defence particularly hard hit.Steve Bruce was on record saying "I was absolutely delighted with his form, he was starting to look like the goalkeeper we paid all that money for," Bruce said, as quoted by Press Association Sport. "To have him out for three months is a blow, for sure. He is devastated with what happened but he will get over it."Gordon adds "We've played 14 different back fours in the premier league this season which is an incredible stat, that many combinations would cause problems for any team," he says. "To get all the players back we'll have a better and stronger squad and hopefully we can have a much better end to the season." Without question the low point of the run was the 7-2 defeat by Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. "The training ground was a very quiet place for a few days after that, everybody was hurting, but then you start to get on with it and realise you're not as bad a team as the score suggests - it was just one of those games."Martin Fulop was in goal that day and unfortunately for him the heavy defeat coincided with Gordon's availability. For the next match, the FA Cup fourth round tie against Portsmouth, Fulop was dropped. "I have had that happen to me before and it's not nice but there wasn't a great deal Martin could do," says Gordon. "We spoke about it afterwards and overall he didn't have that bad a game. "It was one of those games where the goalkeeper is totally exposed."The old wayThings have now started to improve for the Black Cats, players have returned from injury and the recent transfer window has seen a couple of new faces arrive. The January window is always a hectic period for clubs and roundly disliked by the managers. Steve Bruce is one who has been particularly critical, and Gordon agrees. "Personally I preferred it the old way," he reveals. "You can end up not playing for 6 months because at the last minute somebody is brought in who is going to play in front of you - you didn't realise it was going to happen - the window shuts and you can't move for 6 months. "Decisions can get made too hastily and both clubs and players can end up making the wrong choice. "Under the old system you could spend time thinking things through, looking at your options, it's not just the football side of things you've got to consider, there's your family too."Unfortunately for Gordon, Scotland has failed to qualify for another major Championship, he'll be a spectator again at this summer's World Cup. However, he believes Scotland have a brighter future under new manager Craig Levein. Gordon knows all about Levein, he was his manager at Hearts before his transfer to Sunderland. "I think we'll be organised, he's always had very disciplined teams and I think he'll do the same with Scotland, try and give us a good base to win games from," says Gordon. "We know that if we can't go out and dominate teams then we need to be hard to beat, it'll be back to basics and hopefully with everybody fit we can go and win matches and qualify for the European Championships."Editors note: Craig's fine form since returning to the side has seen him win consecutive Man of the Match awards and the team pull clear of the relegation zone."backpage imagesDecisions can get made too hastily and both clubs and players can end up making the wrong choice.