MICHAEL Turner admits he has been surprised by Sunderland’s struggles this season.
The former Black Cats defender makes his return to the Stadium of Light this weekend after joining Sunday’s opponents Norwich City in a £2m deal during the summer.
While the Canaries are only three points better off than Sunderland, the televised encounter is crucial for Martin O’Neill’s side in the relegation dogfight, ahead of a daunting run of fixtures against Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle.
Turner said: “I’m a little bit surprised. They had a slow start and picked up, and I thought they would be a mid-table side pushing on, but it hasn’t happened that way.
“In terms of the fans, they will be disappointed in their league position, and maybe it’s an opportunity for us to go there and keep them quiet. We know it’s going to be a tough game. They will be looking at it as a game they can win.
“I know they’ve got a couple of tough games after us, so I’m sure they will be looking at this one to put three points on the board.”
Turner insists he has nothing to prove after making 77 appearances for Sunderland during his three years in red and white.
But the ex-Hull City defender admits he rues his injury record during his time on Wearside.
The 29-year-old said: “I don’t feel I have anything to prove. I played some good games for the club and had some great wins too. I was pleased with my contribution there over the years.
“The first season I was pretty pleased with how things went and the second season started well and I thought I was really becoming what I wanted to be.
“But I picked up a bad injury which gave me a massive setback. I missed most of my second season and then in the third season I picked up another little injury, so it was a bit disrupted by injuries. It was disappointing but just one of those things.”
Turner endured a harrowing debut for Norwich after Chris Hughton’s side were thrashed 5-0 at Fulham on the opening day.
But Turner has gradually found his feet at Carrow Road alongside ex-Newcastle defender Sebastien Bassong, helping Norwich to clean sheets in three of his last five appearances.
“I’ve been pleased with my form of late,” he added.
“I always knew if I played consistently, I’d show consistent form.
“Of course, playing the first game then not playing the game after that was disappointing but it’s nothing I’m going to cry about. I just got on with it and knew if I played a consistent string of games, I’d put in consistent performances.
“I was pleased to be in the side in the 10-game unbeaten run when we put in some great performances and got some big points in. That was the platform for my season, getting back in the team and doing well and I’m pleased how it’s gone of late.”