Malbranque has Euro dreams

Black Cats winger hoping for Carling Cup repeat

Malbranque: Realistic ambitions

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Steed Malbranque admits his Carling Cup ambitions are founded on a desire to compete in Europe.

The Sunderland winger is hoping to help the Black Cats secure a safe passage past League One underdogs Northampton in the third round of the competition on Tuesday, but he has set his sights much higher.

The Frenchman was part of the Tottenham side which lifted the trophy last season and he is keen to relive those Wembley heroics.

Malbranque sees no reason why his new employers cannot replicate those achievements and claim the resulting Uefa Cup spot.

Incredible

"That would be incredible, especially after Pascal (Chimbonda), Teemu (Tainio) and I won the competition with Spurs last year," the midfielder told the Sunderland Echo.

"This is a big competition and a way into Europe so we want to do well.

"Getting to Wembley last season was a great experience. Not many players get to do that. It is probably too much for us to think we can get into Europe next season from the league, so the cup is an opportunity for us.

"We have a strong squad and if we play well we can be in the next round."

Challenge

Sunderland have waited 35 years since they last got their hands on some silverware, the 1973 FA Cup, and Malbranque is determined to help bring some cheer to those who have helped him feel so welcome in his new surroundings.

The 28-year-old said: "The Sunderland fans I have met have been good to me and we all want to give them something special.

"I have my family with me and I have had no problem moving from London to the North East. London was great, especially with winning a cup last season, but Sunderland is a great new challenge and I am enjoying it."