Alim Ozturk opens up on his Wembley disappointment and why Sunderland 'need' to achieve promotion
Alim Ozturk admits he was disappointed not to start in March's Checkatrade Trophy final - but is determined to help lead Sunderland to promotion at Wembley this weekend.
The Turkish centre back looks nailed-on to start in the League One play-off final, having built-up a solid partnership with Tom Flanagan in recent weeks.
And if he does feature against Charlton on Sunday, Ozturk will be keen to help the Black Cats back to the Championship - where he feels they belong.
Having started every game en route to Sunderland's last trip to Wembley, Ozturk admits he was expecting to be handed a chance against Pompey.
But he won't dwell on that disappointment this weekend, and is grateful at having another opportunity to take to the hallowed turf.
“I played almost every game in the Checkatrade except the semi-final, when I was injured, so I expected to start the final,” he said, speaking to the Edinburgh Evening News.
“But I was in the stand so I was disappointed.
"We had a lot of supporters there and it was an amazing occasion but this one is even more important.
"It’s really nice that I have another chance so soon to play at Wembley.”
While Sunderland were many people's early season favourites to seal automatic promotion, a transitional summer meant the play-offs were always considered a more realistic aim.
And Ozturk believes promotion via the end of season lottery is a must for the Black Cats - as he feels they are 'far too big' for the third tier.
“The most ideal situation would have been to finish in the top two and get automatic promotion but it doesn’t matter if you get to the Championship via the play-off final.
"The Championship is a big league and Sunderland need to be at least at that level.
"This club is far too big for League One.”