JOSH SCOWEN is relishing the battle for a starting spot at Sunderland, and says the Black Cats can only benefit from having so many options at the heart of midfield.

With George Dobson suspended and Max Power unavailable because of injury, Scowen started the 1-0 win over Peterborough United and goalless draw with Charlton Athletic that preceded the international break.

However, with Dobson and Power having returned to the fold in this week’s EFL Trophy win over Carlisle United, and Chris Maguire also back fit after an injury absence, Phil Parkinson finds himself with something of a selection dilemma ahead of his side’s next league game at Swindon Town in seven days’ time.

Given his status as skipper, it can be assumed Power will fill one of the central midfield slots at the County Ground, so Scowen will be battling it out with Dobson and Grant Leadbitter for a place in the team.

“We’ve got a good number of players in midfield so you have to perform to keep yourself in the team,” said the 27-year-old. “Max has come back in, Chrissy (is) back, Dobbo as well - they were the three who started the season. They’re very good,experienced players, and there’s healthy competition there. That’s part of football.

“It’s probably good for the manager to have difficult decisions, but at the end of the day he’s going to need the whole squad and we’ve got a very good squad. Whatever team the gaffer picks to put out, we’re going to fight for the three points.”

Scowen joined Sunderland from QPR in January, but his opportunity to impress in the second half of last season was severely limited by the decision to end the campaign early because of coronavirus.

His only league start last term came in the 2-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers that proved to be Sunderland’s final outing, so the club’s supporters have had very little opportunity to see him in action.

He spent much of his time at QPR playing as a defensive midfielder, but was stationed in more of an attacking position against Charlton a task he is confident he is capable of carrying out.

“It is something that’s always been there,” he said. “It’s something I’ve had in my game, just something I’m probably not described as when people talk about what type of player I am.”