Gaston Ramirez is gunning for Sunderland in Sunday’s Wear-Tees derby at the Stadium of Light – after an encouraging opening-day performance.
Ramirez was lively throughout as Middlesbrough marked their Premier League return, after seven years away, with a 1-1 draw against Stoke last weekend.
The 25-year-old Uruguayan is determined to make his mark for Aitor Karanka’s men in the top flight, following a disappointing stint at Southampton, who paid £12million for him four years ago.
“The gaffer (Karanka) has given me lots of confidence, and hopefully I can prove that I can play at this level,” said Ramirez, who was denied an opening-day goal by the woodwork against Stoke.
“I have done it in the past, so I know what I am capable of if I keep working hard. I enjoyed myself last season, and I am happy to be back with the squad.
“When you feel comfortable somewhere, and the people and the gaffer want you, it makes it a really easy to make a decision.
“I’m really pleased that things went through and now I’m looking forward to playing in the Premier League with Middlesbrough.”
On the Stoke game, Ramirez commented: “For most of the players, it was their first game in the Premier League.
“We’ve got some new players, and they are still settling into the group. We need that to happen as soon as possible because it will fill them with confidence.
“We were playing against a really good team, with good players, who finished in ninth last season. They are a good team, but we could have beaten them.” When you are winning the game for most of the time, you feel as though you should take all of the points at the end.
“But it was still a good result for us, and the first point in the league. We just have to keep working in the same way now.”
Meanwhile, fit-again centre-back Dani Ayala is targeting a place in Boro’s matchday squad at Sunderland after coming throiugh 45 minutes of Monday’s 0-0 Premier League 2 clash with Brighton Under-23s.