George Honeyman has spoken of his devastation after Sunderland’s relegation to the Championship - and says the club must come back stronger.
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder came on as a sub in the 1-0 defeat to Bournemouth that sealed the club’s fate and he is desperate to play his part between now and the end of the season.
Sunderland have four Premier League games left and head to Hull City on Saturday looking to try and build some momentum ahead of a massive summer.
Academy graduate Honeyman has been at the club since the age of 10 and he says relegation is something he never wants to experience again.
Honeyman said: “To come through the ranks, become part of the team and then suffer relegation is devastating to be honest.
“I’ve never felt like I did after the game. It was a new experience and one that I never want to experience again because I know just how many people it affects.
“It’s hard to take any positives from it and to be honest we just feel like we’ve let everyone down.
“We have to use it as motivation and we can’t let it carry into next season. We must come back stronger but it’s all talk at the moment so we need to make sure we take action.
“From the players to the staff, we have to improve and do better because this is a massive club and it deserves to be in the Premier League.”
Sunderland are 13 points adrift of fourth-bottom Hull, who are still scrapping for their top flight status.
Honeyman is hoping to build on his sub appearance against the Cherries and get another run-out for David Moyes’ Sunderland side.
“I hope so,” added the lively midfielder. “I’m desperate to play and whenever I do I’ll give everything for the club.
“Hopefully I get the chance to show everyone why I should be in the team next season and I’ll look forward to the challenge.
“As I said this is a big club and with that comes pressure, but if you can’t handle it you shouldn’t be here. We have to play with pride and give the supporters something to smile about.
“Planning for next season starts now and we have to use the time wisely for the good of the club. We need to hit the ground running and make sure we’re ready for the Championship because it’s a tough league.
“We want to bounce back so there’s no point waiting around and the hard work starts now,” he told the club website.