JULIO ARCA last night insisted he will not be Sunderland's saviour and told fans: "I'm not a hero - I'm not a Maradona."

Arca's return to the Sunderland side has been met with widespread acclaim from supporters desperate to cling on to any scrap of hope as they battle to stay in the Premiership.

The Argentinian could start his first Premiership game since October 6 when Sunderland, a point away from safety, visit Everton on Saturday after encouraging performances against Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers.

But after being feted by fans chanting "Julio" even when he was not on the pitch during the Blackburn game, Arca acted to reduce the level of expectation on his shoulders.

He said: "I'm not a hero; I'm not a Maradona. It's fantastic when the crowd sing my name because I've never had that before.

"It's a great motivation when that happens, but maybe Sunderland are lucky to have had good results when I've been in the side.

"I didn't have a good time last year because I didn't play too much because I had a lot of injury problems.

"I feel 100 per cent now, but it depends on the manager. I've only played a couple of games under Howard Wilkinson, but I'd like a good run in the side. I need to get more games under my belt."

Arca has been linked with a move away from Wearside, with a posse of Spanish clubs believed to be interested in the left-sided midfielder.

Juventus have also kept tabs on the player ever since he joined Sunderland from Argentinos Juniors for £3m in 2000.

Arca was even linked with Manchester United more than a year ago, but he has committed himself to the Black Cats in their hour of need.

He said: "I want to stay at Sunderland and play in the Premiership.

"The situation now is very different to when I arrived but we have the players to help us climb the table.

"The best thing for us now is to work hard for the results. We've been a bit unlucky at times, but the fans just need to be patient and they'll see the results.

"We're very inconsistent at the moment and that's frustrating for the supporters.

"But I think we'll get it right and beating Bolton is a good starting point."

Meanwhile, Stanislav Varga could become the first victim of Wilkinson's attempts to trim the Sunderland squad and bolster his transfer war chest.

Varga, 29, is wanted by Norwegian club Brann Bergen, and may be allowed to leave after failing to make a single Premiership appearance this season.

Varga's agent Stig Lillejord said: "I'm sure that Varga would be a good signing for Brann."

Brann sporting director Per-Ove Ludvigsen added: "The indications are that Varga is a player who would strengthen our team."

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