LEE Cattermole believes back-to-back home games will give him the perfect chance to get fully match-fit again.
The skipper has had a stop-start season so far through injury and suspension and was only passed fit at the 11th hour to play in the 3-1 win over Fulham at the weekend.
But he says the games against West Brom on Saturday and Queen Park Rangers on Tuesday are exactly what he needs to get him back to his sharpest.
And he is relishing the prospect of playing in a Sunderland side showing signs of gelling after a difficult opening to the campaign.
“It was touch-and-go on whether I would play or not against Fulham after injuring myself the previous week,” he revealed.
“I missed out on playing in the Everton game after picking up an injury in the very last training session before the match.
“It was just one of those things – I went in on a challenge against Phil Bardsley and he landed awkwardly on top of me hurting my knee.
“I was determined to make the Fulham game after the scan revealed it was nothing too serious, just bruising to the bone, but I hadn’t really trained all week and I must admit I was finding it difficult towards the end of the game – which is not like me.
“Hopefully, though, these two games will get me firing on all cylinders.
“I know I’m at my best when I’m 100 per cent fit but it hasn’t been that simple this season – the sending off against the MK Dons in September actually saw me miss five weeks of the season because of the way the fixtures fell.
“So it hasn’t been the easiest getting that match sharpness back and these games will definitely be a big help in that direction.”
The 24-year-old, who this season penned a contract extension which will keep him at the club until 2016, says he can’t wait to be back to his best because he is excited about what this team is capable of.
“I genuinely think these are exciting times for us. OK we haven’t quick clicked yet but we’ve been unlucky in a few games. We haven’t had the luck or the bounce of the ball.
“It was different against Everton and against Fulham though – we’ve played really well in our last two games.
“And when you see our attacking players coming into their best form, like they have been doing lately, you really want to be part of a team that you can feel can do some damage and really starting putting some points together.”