LIAM BRIDCUTT admits Sunderland fans are yet to see what he can really do in a red and white shirt.
Sunderland boss Gus Poyet spent all of the January transfer window vying to bring Bridcutt to the Stadium of Light after working with the midfielder at former club Brighton.
But while Bridcutt has been neat and tidy in his 12 appearances for the Black Cats, the 25-year-old is yet to genuinely show why Poyet was so keen to be reunited with him.
There have been mitigating reasons for that.
Bridcutt spent three months out earlier this season with injury, was then frozen out at Brighton prior to joining Sunderland and then faced off-the-field problems last month with a difficult birth of his son.
Yet Bridcutt accepts that he can produce better and wants to show his true worth by starting next season on the front foot.
He told the Echo: “Without a doubt, I still need to show my best form here.
“The season was hard for me.
“Even going back to when I was at Brighton, it was difficult because I was coming back from injury.
“Then it was stop-start when I got here with the cup runs, not being in the team and a lot happened off the pitch with my family.
“It’s tested me and I’ve come through it.
“Now I’m just looking forward to next season.
“With the games I’ve played, I’ve done well, but I know I can do better.
“With a good pre-season, with all the lads and Gus, I want to be flying next season.”
Bridcutt started just one of the last eight games – the final-day defeat to Swansea – but, in his place, Lee Cattermole proved to be Sunderland’s talisman.
Cattermole was so influential that Bridcutt is honest enough to say he believes Sunderland’s survival bid may well have fallen flat if it wasn’t for the Teessider’s displays, coupled with the goals of Connor Wickham.
“Lee was exceptional and, for me, he’s so under-rated,” said the Scotland international..
“He’s been a top-class professional for us and he’s going to play a key part for us next season.
“He does a lot of the dirty work that people miss.
“Without Lee and Connor, it might have been a different story.”