Jack Rodwell says joining Sunderland is not a gamble - and he's not injury-prone

Jack Rodwell insists he was only injured for three weeks last season, and can play regularly for Sunderland

Action Images / Ed Sykes Jack Rodwell of Sunderland in action
Jack Rodwell of Sunderland in action

You can brand Jack Rodwell many things.

A soaring, superb talent, a cautionary tale to young English footballers or even a “crock”. Rodwell brushes all of these terms off with the kind of self-confidence that you might expect from a player who one Sunderland insider this week insisted is still “an England captain-in-the-making”.

That might be a bit of a breathless prediction to make at this stage in a career that has not quite lived up to its early promise but there is no doubt that the Black Cats have pulled off a coup in persuading a player with options to move to Wearside.

Rodwell doesn’t mind if critics have questioned him but he does have an issue with one word – “gamble”. He doesn’t see Sunderland spending the best part of £10million on him as one – and doesn’t consider a move to Wearside as playing fast and loose with his own future either.

“I obviously had options,” he admits, sitting down to talk for the first time since joining the Black Cats in midweek.

“But I spoke to the manager, (sporting director) Lee Congerton and the assistant manager and everything they had to say was spot on and it matched up with my ambitions as well.

“For me now it’s about playing regular football because I’ve had a couple of season without doing that. I need to get back on it and I feel that this is the club to take me forward.”

So that’s that, right?

Well not quite. Enthusiasm at the Stadium of Light for managing to lure Rodwell was tempered a mite at the fact that he barely played any part for Manchester City, through a combination of bad timing, internal City politics and injuries.

The first charge levelled at Rodwell is that he is injury-prone. Pointing out that he was injured for just three weeks of last season, he doesn’t agree: “That’s the first time I’ve heard that but it doesn’t upset me.

“To be honest, last season I was probably injured less than pretty much any other member of the Manchester City team. I think over the course of the whole season I was injured for about three weeks.

“That might surprise quite a lot of people, because they just didn’t see my name on the team sheet and thought I must be injured. In the first season I did have a few injuries, but last season I was fit and available for 47 out of the 57 games. Those games come quick so I probably only missed about three weeks in total.

Sunderland kick off at West Brom next weekend hoping to avoid the traumas of the last two campaigns, when they flirted far too lustily with relegation. Rodwell saw Sunderland nick three points from Manchester City to kick-start their great escape and sees something to build on.

“Last season, especially at the back end, I thought that Sunderland played really well,” he said.

“They were playing good football under Gus. He just came across really well, he’s someone who has done it at the top level and he knows what the players need. He’s obviously got good man-management skills, he said I’d be playing every week as well and that’s the main thing for me.

“That’s crucial and the biggest thing for me now. For two seasons I’ve been in and out.

“I could have stayed at Manchester City and fought for my place, but that would probably have meant being on the bench and being a bit-part player, I could have picked up trophies along the way and a lot of players might have settled for that, but I’ve had two years of that now and just couldn’t do it any more. I”m happy to be here.”

Rodwell comes to Sunderland for the same reason that Adam Johnson did – regular football.

He needs to rebuild a career that has been damaged – not terminally, though – by not playing regularly.

“In the last couple of years, I’ve just not played as much football as I would have liked. If I’d been playing regularly for the last two years, I believe I probably would have been up there. I certainly think I would have been playing at the World Cup. It’s just not worked out over the last two season and that’s why I am here now.”

And an England recall?

“I’d like Roy Hodgson to see as many games as he could, obviously, and I think Adam Johnson was a little bit unlucky not to have got into the squad. He had a very good end to the season, so hopefully the manager will get up here as much as possible.”


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