JACK Colback was considering his long-term future at Sunderland before earning his first-team chance.
The youth team graduate endured a frustrating four months back at the Stadium of Light after returning from a second loan spell at Ipswich Town in January.
Colback started in January’s FA Cup third round exit against Notts County and was then restricted to five substitute appearances until getting his shot in the starting XI at Birmingham last month.
The 21-year-old admits he was beginning to wonder whether he would get a chance at Sunderland despite impressing in the Championship.
But with Steve Bruce claiming Colback will remain firmly in his plans next season, the midfielder is now eager to prove himself in the Premier League.
Colback said: “I would be lying if I said I had not questioned my future at the club.
“I did fear it was not going to work out for me at Sunderland. I had even started to think I might have to leave in the summer.
“However, I have been patient and I have taken my chance when it has come.
“I am delighted the manager feels I have a role to play next season as well. It has changed very quickly for me.
“When I went back out on loan to Ipswich, I did not think I would ever get that chance and that was hard. Thankfully, I was wrong.
“The manager has said I have cemented my place in the squad for next season and to hear that is great – it has given me a lot of confidence.
“I have shown I can handle myself in the Premier League and that was the step I had to take.
“I had done it in the Championship with Ipswich, but this has been another step up for me and I am really happy with how it has gone. I want to push on again next season and try to turn myself into a regular in the side.”
Colback has been the chief beneficiary of Sunderland’s injury problems after impressing in a run of four successive starts.
“When you are in my situation on the fringes of the first-team squad, the injury crisis is a bit of a blessing in disguise,” he added.
“I would not have had this run in the side if there were not so many other players missing and hopefully I have proved I can play at this level.”