Dan Gosling

By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter

Ahead of Thursday night's trip to Maritimo, Dan Gosling planned to use the Reserve derby with Sunderland as a chance to gain some much needed match sharpness - but he ended up with a little more than he bargained for.

When stand-in centre-back Michael Richardson was stretchered off after 70 minutes, Willie Donachie and Peter Beardsley turned to the former England under-21 midfielder to partner young Curtis Good.

That saw him come up against his former Everton team-mate Louis Saha, and the French international made sure Gosling's thoughts remained on the task in hand and not on Europa League action.

But having passed that test in an enthralling 2-2 draw which saw Connor Wickham net twice for the visitors either side of goals from Bradden Inman and Adam Campbell, the 22-year-old spoke to nufc.co.uk ahead of flying out to the island of Madeira on Wednesday morning.

"I used to play there when I was younger actually, and I enjoyed the role but as I've got older I don't think I'm that suited to it," he smiled.

"But you've got to learn new roles and if it helped the team tonight then so be it.

"We didn't have many defenders tonight, so I got put back to centre-back but it was alright. I enjoyed the game and it was a fair result in the end.

"Obviously with it being against Sunderland, it brings something to the game; there was a big crowd here and it was on the main pitch as well so that all helps to make it a proper game and it was a good game for the fans as well with a few goals and a few players out there as well."

And Gosling - who started both legs against Atromitos as United qualified for the European group stages - was happy to play the whole game as he aims to make sure that he's ready if called upon for a hectic run of games over the next few weeks.

He said: "I only got told that I was playing on Monday, but it's a game at the end of the day and the more I play, hopefully the fitter I'll get and the better I'll get.

"So I'm happy to play and hopefully I'll get a game on Thursday as well but we'll see what happens.

"My last game was obviously in the Europa League back here a couple of weeks ago but it's been two or three weeks now since that game so I needed that, and hopefully I'll get in on Thursday as well."

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