Cana - I'm not dirty
Sunderland's Lorik Cana insists he is not a dirty player, despite his disciplinary record.
Last Updated: 26/12/09 12:31pm
Sunderland skipper Lorik Cana insists he is not a dirty player, despite having the worst disciplinary record in the top flight this season.
The midfielder switched to the Stadium of Light from Marseille in the summer and has so far picked up seven yellow cards and one red.
But the Albanian international insists he is just combative, a style which has already made him a cult figure on Wearside, and he does not want to change how he plays.
Cana told the Daily Express: "I always try to be fair when I play. To be strong, of course, but to be fair.
"Only once in my life have I had a red card for any other reason than a tackle or for strong play. I always try to be fair and play the ball.
"Sometimes you are late or you use too much power but that's just football. Most importantly, people can see that I am not a bad guy or someone that would try to injure an opponent.
"I always try to play the ball and to be strong but sometimes I try too much. I don't think all of my yellow cards were yellow cards this year, but sometimes I have to do my part of the job and try to have a better relationship with the referee.
"Of course the red card against Aston Villa was not good for me or the team but it is part of football.
"I have never been booked for reasons other than having a strong game. I am just 26 and have already played about 300 games in all competitions so it is not really a problem.
"Every year I play 34 or 35 games in the league. That is the most important thing.
"I'm never injured. I never miss games through injury and that will be the same again this season."
Cana believes his disciplinary record is no worse than other combative midfielders like Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira.
He added: "For people in central midfield or defence, you always miss two or three games a year because of bookings.
"Just compare my record with Patrick Vieira or Roy Keane, players like that. I'm not sure I am worse than them, so it is part of my job.
"I used to really enjoy watching Vieira and Keane play against each other. They are similar players to me with great spirit and they were leaders for their team.
"The most important thing is what sort of person you are. I'd never deliberately set out to injure an opponent. That is something I've never done."