Every game is a Cup Final, says Arca

DEFENDER Julio Arca insists there are 37 cup finals to be won before Sunderland can make an instant return to the Premiership, starting with a difficult home game with Ipswich tonight, writes Derek Davis.

DEFENDER Julio Arca insists there are 37 cup finals to be won before Sunderland can make an instant return to the Premiership, starting with a difficult home game with Ipswich tonight, writes Derek Davis.

After scoring the opening goal in the 2-0 victory over Reading at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, Arca is in jubilant mood.

He said: "We had another three important points on Saturday and I am pleased to have scored a really nice goal, but the best thing for me is that we won.

"People expected us to take four or six points from the away games at Stoke and Derby, but we only got one point and that shows that this is going to be a difficult league.

"The confidence is high in the team, but we know we must take it slowly because we have 37 cup finals to play.

"Everyone is out to stop us. Reading are a good team and did very well last season, but came and played very defensive.

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"I think they defended too much because they have good players, but we played better and now we will try to get another three points tomorrow."

"We have tried to fight every game and it will be hard to keep it going, but we have to try.

"Now everyone expects us to get three points against Ipswich, but it will be a hard game I think.

"We will need all the squad to be up for it. Sean Thornton, Michael Proctor and Tommy Smith came on against Reading and everyone wants to be in the team so it is a fight for everyone to keep their place, which is good."

Stand-in skipper Paul Thirwell is a major doubt after picking up a knock against Reading with McCarthy likely to go for Jeff Whitley over 17-year-old midfielder Grant Leadbitter.

Sean Thornton misses out as he serves a one-match ban for being sent off at Stoke, so with Jason McAteer a long-term casualty, along with Matt Piper and Stephen Wright, then the Black Cats are pushed in midfield with a lot resting on Colin Healy.

John Oster scored his first goal in seven years on Saturday and will provide width on the right with Thomas Butler pushing down the left with Marcus Stewart and Kevin Kyle eager for the service up front.

Gary Breen's return has helped tighten things up at the back and Sunderland kept another clean sheet on Saturday.

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