LIAM BRIDCUTT believes his selection battle with Lee Cattermole will bring out the best in the two defensive midfielders.
Cattermole and Bridcutt are yet to appear on the field together for Sunderland since the latter’s £2.5million arrival on January transfer deadline day.
Gus Poyet opted to keep faith with Cattermole at Hull City last weekend after Bridcutt had been cup-tied for the Capital One Cup final seven days earlier, but the Sunderland boss is a big fan of his new signing, who he developed at former club Brighton.
Bridcutt accepts that the pair are likely to be fighting for the same spot, rather than being squeezed into the same starting XI, yet he insists that competition can only help Sunderland in the fight for survival.
“There’s obviously competition between me and Lee, but it’s a healthy competition,” the 24-year-old said.
“Lee is a top player and we know we’re fighting for that spot.
“But I think we make each other better each day in training when we’re competing for that spot.
“At the end of the day, we’re both fighting for the same thing - we want to stay in the Premier League.
“And if I can help Lee in any way when he’s playing, I’ll do it and I think he’ll do the same for me.”
Prior to today’s encounter against Crystal Palace, Bridcutt had only made three appearances for Sunderland after being ineligible for the League Cup and failing to appear in the FA Cup.
But the Scotland international admits his first taste of life as a Premier League first-teamer has still been hectic after making his debut in the Tyne-Wear derby and seeing the club reach the latter stages of two cup competitions.
He added: “It’s been a whirlwind for me. My first game was the derby and then a couple of weeks after, we were building up for a cup final, and then a cup quarter final.
“It’s been a mad few weeks, but now we can really concentrate on one thing and that’s the Premier League.
“You’re playing against better players in the Premier League. one mistake and you can be killed. I think that’s what the Premier League is about; the quality of players.
“You can sense it in training. With the group of players we’ve got here, there’s a high standard.
“That’s the difference with the Championship. There’s top players everywhere you look.”