Steven Pienaar is giving “everything” for Sunderland after pushing himself hard to get match-fit.
The 34-year-old signed a one-year deal on Wearside after being released by Everton at the end of last season.
The South African barely featured for the Toffees over the past two years, with just 11 appearances in 2014-15 and six last season.
Injuries and a squad short of depth has forced David Moyes into throwing Pienaar straight in, with the midfielder coming on as a first-half sub against Middlesbrough last weekend and then starting against Shrewsbury Town and the draw with Southampton.
Pienaar, who was a doubt ahead of the trip to St Mary’s, with a niggle behind his knee, completed 67 minutes before being replaced by Jeremain Lens. “Coming back from a long lay-off, I have pushed myself really hard to get fit,” said Pienaar.
“I am the kind of player, that if the manager asks me to do a certain job, then I will never say no. I gave everything I had and got another 60+ minutes under my belt.
“My fitness levels are getting better every game.”
The point saw Sunderland off the mark in the Premier League, but the Black Cats were so close to taking home all three, with Jermain Defoe’s 80th minute penalty cancelled out by Jay Rodriguez’s leveller five minutes from time.
“It was very warm out there – we put in a good shift as a team,” said Pienaar.
“We are disappointed to only come away with a point, but credit to the lads for the performance and the effort we all put in.
“Before the game, we told ourselves it was a good chance to get some points on the board – it could start our season.
“We were disappointed in the end having put a shift in, worked really hard and then gone 1-0 up, discipline has to kick in and stay tight. Unfortunately, they equalised.”