Grant Leadbitter

Leadbitter on Sunderland return

by Stuart Vose

Former Black Cat eyeing cup upset.

Former Sunderland man Grant Leadbitter admits tonight’s cup tie at the Stadium of Light is one he’s been relishing for a while.

The midfielder has a long association with the Black Cats, having come through the Academy system to make 123 senior appearances on Wearside.

He joined Ipswich in 2009 before moving to Boro in the summer and taking on the club captaincy.

Tonight’s tie will see the 26-year-old return to the SoL for the first time and it’s something he can’t wait to experience.

“I suppose it's just another game where we want to do well,” he told Middlesbrough’s official website. “But I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been looking forward to this since the draw was made.

“There have been so many games since that there has been no chance to concentrate on this on until after the Bolton game [last weekend].”

Boro have been in excellent form and sit just three points off top spot in the Npower Championship.

They have won each of their last four games and have lost just two of their last 10 outings in all competitions.

"We're on a good run, but we have a few injuries,” Leadbitter added. “It's a cup you want to win and this is an important part of the season. If we can go there and do well it will carry on our momentum into Charlton on Saturday.

"It would be nice have a good cup run, although we know promotion is the priority.

"Our fans have been brilliant. They've really helped the team and that was certainly the case on Saturday against Bolton, they gave us that extra life. The away fans are always good and we'll need them tonight. It's always nice to be in good form. 

"Everyone is playing their part and that includes the fans."

Meanwhile the midfielder isn’t expecting an easy ride tonight at the hands of a Sunderland side who have lost just once this season.

"There're not losing many, are they?” he said. “They may not be winning many, but they're difficult to beat.

"I owe big thanks to a lot of people of Sunderland for helping me in the game, I really enjoyed my time there. But that's in the past, now I'm at Middlesbrough and really enjoying it."