Sunderland's Jack Baldwin admits it's been a 'rocky few months' but insists the team are gelling well
Jack Baldwin has been one of Sunderland's best performers this season - but it hasn't always been easy for the 25-year-old centre-back.
Baldwin, who scored his first goal for the club against Bradford yesterday, admitted it's taken a while to get used to his new surroundings following his arrival from Peterborough in the summer.
But, after helping his side move up to third in the table with a 2-1 win at Valley Parade, Baldwin believes the squad are starting to reach their full potential.
"It's been a rocky few months, getting settled in the house and around the new lads but it's well underway now," Baldwin told SAFC.com.
"We're gelling as a team and training is at such a level where the lads are getting the best out of each other and it's showing on the pitch.
"We've put in some strong performances and there are certain parts where we're playing our football like we can. We'll only get stronger as the season goes forward."
Baldwin, who has started all but one of Sunderland's league games this campaign, was relieved to score his first goal for the Black Cats after missing a few chances in previous games.
And it felt even better that it came in front of the travelling Sunderland supporters, and turned out to be the winner in an entertaining 2-1 win.
"It's been a while coming because I've missed a few chances," said Baldwin
"I missed one earlier on down the far end and it was ringing through my head 'not again, not again' because I missed a few at home as well.
"But to get a goal in front of the away supporters is a special moment for me."
The defender has been blown away by the Black Cats supporters, and believes they pulled the side through following Max Power's red card in the second half.
"So many times they can pull you through when things go against you," said Baldwin.
"We went down to 10 men for the last part of the game and they really drag you through, and you can really sense they're willing you on to do well.
"It makes a massive difference for them to come here in their numbers week in week out, it makes a real big difference to us on the park."
Sunderland signed 12 new players over the summer, and Baldwin admitted it has taken a while for the side to gel.
However, he now believes the side are getting better and better each week, and have quality all over the pitch.
"It's a squad game, Josh Maja up front is doing a great job, Sinki (Jerome Sinclair) is putting the work in, the flair of Chris (Maguire) and Geeds (Aiden McGeady) when they get on the ball.
"For us as defenders we're just there to mop it all up.
"They (Bradford) threw the kitchen sink at us today. It's good when you come away from getting everything bombarded at you and you've got the win and know it's all worth it."