Sunderland keeper Lee Camp relishing battle with big mate Jason Steele to be No 1

Lee Camp and Jason Steele are close pals off the pitch and competing to be Sunderland's No.1 on it.

Sunderland keeper Lee Camp. Picture by Frank Reid
Sunderland keeper Lee Camp. Picture by Frank Reid

Manager Chris Coleman strengthened his goalkeeping department – which has been a problem area all season – on deadline day, signing 33-year-old Camp on loan from Cardiff City.

Steele’s deadline-day loan to Derby County fell through at the 11th hour and with Robbin Ruiter out for up to three months with a badly dislocated finger, it means close friends Camp and Steele are now competing for the No 1 spot.

“I know Steeley – we have some mutual friends,” revealed Camp, set to start his third Sunderland game against Brentford at the Stadium of Light this afternoon.

“I don’t think it’s affected the dynamic, because we know the game.

“Steeley’s been around for a long time and I’ve had the same thing where a new goalkeeper’s come in and played – it’s just part and parcel of the industry.

“New managers, new ideas. These things happens.

“He’s been fantastic. We’re mates and everything else in life is temporary.

“We won’t always be two goalkeepers at the same club but we’ll always be friends,” added Camp, who played with Lee Cattermole at England Under-21 level and with Billy Jones at West Brom.

Camp was stood next to Ruiter when he suffered his dislocation in training, the Dutchman needing surgery.

“I was stood there when he did it,” added Camp.

“Thankfully I didn’t see it but it didn’t sound very nice.

“Hearing it was enough.

“It was unfortunate for Robbin. He was the one playing in the side, so, to drop down and then have this happen, it’s a double blow for him.

“It’s unfortunate, but, when he comes back into the building, he’ll be part of it as always.”

Second-bottom Sunderland host Brentford at the start of a potentially pivotal week in the battle for survival, with a midweek trip to Bolton Wanderers followed by the visit of Middlesbrough.

Camp added: “Two home games, that’s a positive.

“We’ve got to be looking to win our home games, that’s the reality. Then, away at Bolton, you have to beat the teams around you.

“It’s a good week, an interesting week. Hopefully Bristol (last week’s 3-3 draw) will be a springboard to push us into Brentford, which won’t be an easy game.

“But we have to focus on ourselves and we need to start winning games quickly.

“It’s consistency, it’s getting results back to back.

“Birmingham got two or three results and they shot up. Bolton have done similar.

“It’s getting on a run of games and putting points on the board. I know, after Bristol, we find ourselves a point further behind, but it’s another point, another point towards the target.

“We have to win and keep believing and if we can’t win, don’t lose – make sure there’s always a positive out of it.

“Get that first win and follow it up with another, not having that roller-coaster of results – win, win, draw.

“There are going to be losses, you have to accept that, but we need a cluster of points on the board, so, if you do have a bad day, you can afford it.

“We don’t want to have a bad day, but the reality is we’re not in a position – not many teams are – to win every game. Get back-to-back wins and keep building.

“From a morale point of view, we salvaged a point out of nothing at Bristol City. It could be important at the end of the season.”