Sunderland defender reveals he has been playing through the pain barrier

Alim Ozturk has revealed how he battled through the pain barrier at Gillingham - because he knew Sunderland needed him.
Alim Ozturk played through the pain barrier for SunderlandAlim Ozturk played through the pain barrier for Sunderland
Alim Ozturk played through the pain barrier for Sunderland

The Black Cats centre-back returned to the side at Priestfield following a hamstring lay-off, with Phil Parkinson forced to reshuffle his backline after an injury crisis saw his ranks depleted.

A difficult pitch and a physical game was not the ideal comeback for Ozturk, but the former Turkish Under-21 international knew the team needed him - and he was happy to oblige.

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“I had trained for a few days with the team and felt good so I had to play, and I did for the team,” he explained.

“It was alright until the last 17 minutes when everything was getting a bit stiff, so I was struggling a little bit at the end.

“I wanted to play through, but the 90 minutes was the maximum for me. I couldn’t do more.

“The pitch tonight was not helping as well. It was slippy everywhere and the way how the game went was not like what I needed.

“But you have to play the game. I had to do it.”

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A free signing following his release from Boluspor in June 2018, Ozturk has struggled to hold down a regular starting spot for the Black Cats this term, with his recurring hamstring injury limiting his chances to impress Parkinson.

But with a corner now hopefully turned, the 27-year-old is keen to stake his claim to a place to the new man in charge.

“I was struggling with my hamstring for a while and didn’t expect it, to be honest,” admitted Ozturk.

“But every time when I came back, I felt it again so it was a strange.

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“But it was alright last week so I trained a big part with the group.

“Of course, you want to be fit, especially when the new manager comes in, and I hope I can stay fit for a long time now.”

Ozturk will be hoping to retain his place for the visit of Coventry City on Saturday - where a League One victory seems a must.

“I think we will be ready for the next two games,” added the defender.

“Hopefully we can get good results there, and put ourselves in a good position in the league.

“Everything looks different then.”