safc.com catch up with Didier Ndong ahead of Sunderland’s Premier League clash with Burnley at the Stadium of Light.
The Gabon international previews Saturday’s big game, reviews his time on Wearside so far and much more.
Didier a big game coming up this weekend against Burnley…
DN: “It’s one of the most important games of our season. It’s crucial because it’s one of the games that can directly affect our season, so we need to win because the earlier we pick up points the better. We want to stay in the Premier League and by beating Burnley we can edge closer to that goal.”
We’ve played them three times this season and overall they’ve come out on top – does that influence the players heading into this game?
DN: “It’s true that we haven’t won against them in the other games, but we have new players now – new signings and players returning – and they’ve helped us become a better side. We need the points and this means we will give our maximum to get them, so we aren’t thinking about the past.”
You mentioned players returning from injury, how much of a boost will it be to finally have them available for selection?
DN: “We’ve had a lot of injuries this season to key players but thankfully they’re now coming back and helping the team. Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff are important players for the team and we’ve also missed players like Jack Rodwell in recent weeks, so it’s great to get them back. They will be important in the final run and help us stay in the Premier League.”
How are you finding your time at Sunderland? As a team we’re in a difficult position but individually you seem to be performing better and better every week…
DN: “I have no problems whatsoever at the club and I’m enjoying my football. I’ve played a few different roles in the team but I’m happy to play wherever the coach needs me because I just want to help the club. I want to help out my team-mates and I’ll always give my best, so wherever I play and whatever my responsibilities I will always work hard.”
You’ve played in a more advanced role over recent weeks. Is that a position you favour?
DN: “It’s a position I’ve always played in and it’s a position I like which is why the manager has selected me there, but it’s all about desire and if you don’t have that desire to win it doesn’t matter where you play. I want to score more goals and that will to do so – even if you’re a defender – can make it happen, so collectively we need to have the desire to win and score goals from all areas of the pitch.”
Desire is a key word at this stage of the season – what is overall feeling within the dressing room heading into the final 11 games?
DN: “We’re united and we’re all for one. This mentality will allow us to win games against the teams around us and fight against the teams at the top, as we’ve done in the past. We’re one when we’re training throughout the week and when we take to the field. The intensity is high and we’re working hard.”
How important is it to start at that intensity to really get the fans off their feet?
DN: “We started like that against Manchester City and you could feel the atmosphere within the stadium. They’re one of the top teams and they play in the Champions League, so if we play in a similar way this weekend and apply the same pressure we will score goals. We have quality so if we produce the same ingredients we did against City, I’m sure the fans will react in the same way and help us throughout the game.”
And by the same token, it’s important to fight from the first whistle until the last, for each other, the fans and the city...
DN: “The fans in this city are tops and they’re the best I’ve seen. They come to every match and win, lose or draw they’re always outside after the game, meeting the players and encouraging us. I understand they can sometimes feel angry and sometimes we feel the same way, but we can’t change what’s in the past and we need to pull together to get the three points.”