George Honeyman has said that the Sunderland squad was blown away by the estimated 7,000 strong turnout for open training at the Stadium of Light today.
Born and raised in the North East, Honeyman is no stranger to the passion of the fans on Wearside, but even he was surprised by the reception he received on arrival.
The 22-year-old says it will have been an eye-opener to many of his team-mates.
He said: "A lot of the pros who have been here a long time also know what it means to the community, you can see today the amount of people who have turned up for a training session! When I was walking in from my car I just thought, ‘Oh my God, how many fans are here?!’. To turn up to a session, if the lads don’t realise it now they never will, I’m sure all the lads will have been taken aback, it really was incredible.
“The lads coming in they might not know much about the club but days like this help them, it is impossible for them not to be touched by that and the amount of fans out there. If they weren’t touched by that then they will never be touched by it. I am sure they will. It was incredible and I was even taken back by it."
Honeyman also said he is hungry for the chance to get back in the side ahead of a crucial three months for the club, having proved to himself that he is at home in the top flight.
The midfielder finally made his Premier League bow at the Hawthorns as Sunderland lost 2-0 to West Brom, but the return of Didier Ndong has seen him drop back to the bench.
He said: "It was a surreal couple of weeks, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to be part of it. Obviously I was desperate to be a part of it all season, after my couple of starts I thought I did alright, when I came on here [v Spurs] it wasn’t exactly how I wanted it to go, I’d never experienced coming on a game like that before. I just want to get back into the team because I feel like I can really help the team, I’ve just got to do everything I can to show the manager he should be playing me.