Carlos Cuellar

Carlos on Villa Park return

by Stuart Vose

Defender speaks ahead of clash with former club.

Carlos Cuellar is fully focused on the task at hand as he prepares to return to Villa Park on Monday night.

The Spanish defender spent four years with the Midlands club and was a popular figure on the terraces, earning the nickname 'King Carlos'.

Villa supporters even held a 'King Carlos Day' when it was announced the likeable centre-back was leaving the club.

If we play with the same dedication, confidence and courage as we have during the last three games, we will be hard to beat

- Carlos Cuellar

Now Cuellar will be back at Villa Park on Monday – but wearing the red and white of Sunderland.

And the experienced 31-year-old says he's excited to have the opportunity to step out at the home of the Villans once again but is concentrating on the task at hand with three vital points up for grabs.

“First of all we have to look after ourselves,” he insisted. “We need to win and carry on to the best finish possible.

“I hope we are going to win on Monday. Afterwards I wish Villa all the best to win their last three games.

“It's going to be strange, as it was when I played my first game against them [earlier in the season].

“I am playing against friends with whom I trained and worked so hard for four years.

“It will be emotional to play there, but I am ready for that and very excited.”

Cuellar counts many friends amongst the current Villa squad, who sit three points behind Sunderland in the Barclays Premier League table.

And the banter has certainly been flying in the build-up to the game, which will see Sunderland gunning for a third successive league win.

“I keep in touch with a lot of them and there have been some texts during the week,” said Cuellar, who made 123 appearances for the Midlands outfit.

“They have been telling me to make sure I don't go in the wrong dressing room!

“I'm looking forward to going back. I had four years [at Villa] and they supported me every single day.”

Meanwhile Cuellar feels the team are in a good place mentally heading into the game and says they can end the season strongly with 12 points still to play for.

“The confidence of the team is so high,” he said. “If we play with the same dedication, confidence and courage as we have during the last three games, we will be hard to beat.

“The look of the team is strong and if we play the same we can finish well in the league.”