Campbell: I can play my way into England squad
There is currently a big Kenwyne Jones-sized hole in Sunderland's forward line after his move to Stoke on Wednesday - and with Lorik Cana already departed to pastures new with Galatasaray, a tricky season appears to await Steve Bruce's side.
But when one door closes another opens and a player who may benefit from Jones' departure is former Manchester United striker Fraizer Campbell. The 22-year-old moved to the Stadium of Light last season after failing to break into the first-team fold at Old Trafford and netted seven goals in 36 games in his debut season for the Wearsiders.
He started half of Sunderland's Premier League matches in 2009-10 but often found himself overhsadowed by the prolific Darren Bent. This time around, however, it seems that Bruce is ready to place his faith in the England Under-21 international to partner Bent up top, and 2010-11 could be a breakthrough season for Campbell.
Having started his career at United and fired his way through the club's youth teams with goals aplenty, Campbell went on loan to Royal Antwerp - earning the nickname "Super Campbell" in Belgium thanks to 21 goals in 33 games. Another short-term deal followed at Hull - where he spearheaded the Tigers ascent to the Premier League, before a mediocre loan spell with Spurs and a subsequent departure from United.
Now, Campbell tells Soccernet that he is ready to make his mark in the Premier League and catch the eye of England boss Fabio Capello.
Mark Lomas: Fraizer, How are you feeling ahead of the start of the new season with Sunderland?
Fraizer Campbell: I'm very excited by the start of the new Premier League season, I've had a very good pre-season and hopefully I can continue that into the new campaign.
Have you set yourself any personal objectives for the 2010-11 campaign?
There's no goals target yet. But maybe a few games in if I can get in the team I can start with that but the main aim is to get match fit and fully sharp, and just play in all the games.
And how about Sunderland, where are you expecting the club will finish?
Last year we finished 13th but this year we want to finish higher and do better than last year. Hopefully 10th or maybe even better would be fantastic for us.
Kenwyne Jones left the club to join Stoke on Wednesday - does that improve your chances of getting regular first-team football?
We've got a good, tight squad here and I was good friends with him, he's a good player and I hope he does well. Every time a player leaves the club you might miss them a little bit but at the same time it gives other people the opportunity to step up and show what they're made of and hopefully we will get a few people stepping up to the plate and doing well.
But do you think you will get more game time as a result of the move?
I've just been preparing for the start of the season - Kenwyne's deal was his own thing and it's nothing to do with me really - hopefully I can just continue how I was doing in pre-season.
What do you make of the club's summer signings - John Mensah and Nedum Onuoha?
John was fantastic for us last season - he just needs to make sure he stays fit. I played with Nedum at Under-21 level, he's a really strong defender and he will do fantastic here.
Craig Bellamy has been linked with a move to Sunderland to replace Kenwyne Jones - would he be a good addition?
I don't know much about him as a person but I've seen as much as anyone else has on the TV. He had a good season at Manchester City, but that's about all I can say. He's a good player and we'll just have to wait and see.
There haven't been too many new faces arriving at the Stadium of Light - yet the likes of Lorik Cana have been allowed to leave, does that worry you?
I'm sure the manager knows exactly what he's doing - he probably had a plan over the summer of who he wanted to sign and who he wanted to let leave the club. I'm sure if he wants to bring someone in he will but I'm not too worried about that. The team we've got here has done well and hopefully we can continue to do that.
Do you regret leaving Manchester United without really fulfilling your potential?
You can't think about the past too much otherwise you will be stuck there. I left there last year, had a decent season and I'm just focused on Sunderland - I want to keep doing well with them and progress as a player.
How important was the role of Steve Bruce in your decision to join Sunderland?
He was ex-Manchester United which was one of the factors. I was going to go on loan to him at Wigan so I knew the manager liked me - he pursued me for a year and that was a key factor of coming to the club and working under a manager like that.
Which manager has had the biggest influence on your career?
I had a great time under Phil Brown, we did well and got promoted - but all the managers I've worked under have influenced me in some part. Hopefully Steve Bruce can be the best manager and take me to the heights of my career.
Fabio Capello selected some fresh faces for the recent friendly against Hungary - does that give you hope of a future England call-up?
There's other young players in there who I played with - if they can do it so it shows to other youngsters around the Premier League that you do well there's a chance for you to get in that England squad. Hopefully that's what I will be looking to do; if I play well I could play for England.
What game are you most looking forward to playing in this season?
The Newcastle game was the first game I looked for - obviously I always enjoy playing against [Manchester] United but personally the Newcastle game is the one I can't wait for.
Tell us a bit about Barclays Spaces for Sports?
It's a great initiative; it's young kids doing what young kids want to do, playing football with a smile on their face. We've been doing coaching drills with them like passing shooting, crossing and finishing and it's nice to come down and be a part of it.
Fraizer Campbell was appearing at the Millennium Centre in Washington, one of 200 Barclays Spaces for Sports sites created across the UK. The multi-sport site was created with £600,000 funding split equally between Barclays and partners the Football Foundation To find out more visit www.barclays.com/community/spacesforsports