JOHN Egan believes he has reaped the rewards of a loan spell at such a high level after returning from a month with Championship outfit Crystal Palace.
Centre-half Egan was back in Sunderland colours in yesterday’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool reserves after his deal with the Eagles came to an end.
The 19-year-old made two starts for Palace during his stint with the Carling Cup semi-finalists – in the FA Cup third round at Derby County and then in a Championship defeat at Blackpool.
Egan said: “I wanted to go to Championship level and really test myself.
“Once I heard Palace were interested, I saw it as a no-brainer really to go and test myself at that level.
“I was thrown in at the deep end at Derby after just one day of training under my belt.
“There was a fair buzz around the place with them being in the Carling Cup semi-final at the time. Everyone was coming into training with a big smile on their face.
“Even though it ended with them getting knocked out, the players and the manager believe that the play-offs are still possible this season.”
The Republic of Ireland U19 international added: “I got huge experience there and I think I’ve come back a better player.
“I really enjoyed it. I played two games and really benefited from those, as well as training with the first-team every day.
“They were good to me down there so it was a good experience.
“Now my aim is to kick on and try to impress the manager here and get into his plans.”
Egan enjoyed a baptism of fire on his return to Wearside as Liverpool fought back from a 3-1 half-time lead to earn a share of the spoils in an intense physical scrap.
“In the first half, we conceded a sloppy goal, but we did well to get back from it,” said Egan.
“We scored three good goals and were playing some good football and we were able to press them and close their space.
“But in the second half, they did to us what we did in the first half.
“Although we conceded two sloppy goals in the second half, at least we didn’t lose the game and came away with a good draw which we’ll take.
“I love playing in games like that, especially against Liverpool because they’re always up for a tackle and a challenge.
“You have to win battles sometimes and that was a battle yesterday.”