DAVID Meyler is happy to remain as Sunderland’s utility man after making his competitive bow in central defence.
Meyler was thrust into an unfamiliar role at the heart of the back four for Sunderland’s Capital One Cup victory at MK Dons on Tuesday night, yet shone in helping the Black Cats to a clean sheet.
With centre-halves Carlos Cuellar and Wes Brown injured, and John O’Shea and Titus Bramble rested, Meyler was asked whether he would be prepared to start alongside Matt Kilgallon for Sunderland’s third round clash.
But the central midfielder, who was also used at right-back during pre-season, jumped at the prospect of only a second start under Martin O’Neill.
Meyler said: “The manager knows I’ll play anywhere just to play.
“If he wants me to play centre-half, right-back, central midfield or whatever, that’s fine. I’ll play wherever for him.
“It’s a long time since I played at centre-half, if at all. Maybe I did a bit when I was younger, although I can’t really remember.
“There were maybe occasions where someone was sent off and I slotted in, but never in an important cup match like on Tuesday night.
“A couple of days before the game, one of the coaches asked if I’d ever played there before because a few of the lads were either injured or being rested for the weekend.
“I just said I’d play anywhere if it meant an opportunity to play for Sunderland.
“I was then told I would be in the team and that was fantastic.”
Meyler’s best chance of starting Saturday’s Stadium of Light clash with Wigan is in a more familiar midfield role though, with the 23-year-old vying to take the spot of the suspended Lee Cattermole.
The Sunderland skipper begins his three-game ban against the Latics after being sent off for the fifth time in his Black Cats career at MK Dons.
Cattermole took to Twitter last night to stress his determination to recover from the blow, which again prompted questions about the former Middlesbrough man’s role as captain.
“Thanks for the support and I will be back and this will be my best season in a sunderland shirt! #belief #hawaythelads” said Cattermole.
But Meyler, who was yesterday left out of the Republic of Ireland squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers, reiterated the views of Sunderland team-mate Craig Gardner in backing Cattermole.
“Everyone who knows Lee Cattermole knows that he plays with his heart on his sleeve,” added Meyler.
“It was just a ball that he went for and thought he could win.
“But Lee is gutted himself because he always wants to do everything he can to help the team. It’s done now and there’s nothing that anyone can do. It’s not something we’ll spend too long thinking about as players.”
Meyler was perhaps a surprise omission from the Ireland squad to face Germany and the Faroe Islands after impressing on his senior debut against Oman earlier this month.
But Sunderland team-mates O’Shea, Keiren Westwood and James McClean have all been included by Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni.