Papy Djilobodji is determined to make the most of his second chance at Premier League football.
The Senegalese international became David Moyes’ first summer signing when the club splashed out £8million on the centre-back from Chelsea.
He joined the Blues last summer but only briefly featured in one League Cup tie before being shipped out on loan to Werder Bremen.
Now, after a frustrating and brief spell at Chelsea, Djilobodji is out to make up for lost time and prove he has what it takes to become an established Premier League defender.
With Younes Kaboul sold to Watford and Everton-target Lamine Kone nursing a bad back, David Moyes had no choice but to throw him in against Middlesbrough, with Djilobodji also starting the 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town in the EFL Cup.
The confident 27-year-old believes he is ready for the challenge of the English top flight.
“It is nice that I started with Sunderland,” he told the Echo
“I didn’t have a chance at Chelsea, now I am going to show what I can do with Sunderland.
“When I came here, I was ready to play and do my best for Sunderland, and I am so happy to work with Sunderland and with the coach. Now I am looking forward to winning a lot of games.
“I want to to my job and if I can do well, it’s going to be good. I feel good and all the lads feel good.
“We need the players who are injured to come back and help the team, and we will improve. I knew of Sunderland, I had friends that told me and I had watched their games.
“Now that I am here I am going to fight for this club to win - we want to win every game and we are focused to do that.”
Djilobodji, who has signed a four-year deal, played alongside Jack Rodwell against League One Shrewsbury, with captain John O’Shea also out with a hip injury.
“It wasn’t a tough game, it was okay and we needed to win it for the confidence,” reflected Djilobodji.
“They are in League One, we showed the difference, I think.
“It gives us a lot of confidence going into the Southampton game,” added Djilobodji, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Werder Bremen after failing to make a league start for Chelsea after signing for £2.7million last summer.
Moyes has high hopes for the defender, who was pleased to make his debut in the Wear-Tees derby,
He added: “My first game was not too good because we lost the game but we won the second and now we continue to fight with the coach, the fans and everyone in Sunderland.
“The first half [against Middlesbrough] we didn’t perform well, the second half was okay and now we look forward. It was a good game to make my debut. The Middlesbrough game is in the past, our focus is now on Southampton.”
Moyes’ options have been decimated after injuries to Seb Larsson (knee), Jan Kirchhoff (hamstring), Lee Cattermole (hernia), O’Shea (hip), Fabio Borini (toe), Vito Mannone (elbow) and Kone (back).
Djilobodji believes the upcoming international break has come at just the right time.
“When the injured players come back, we will be stronger,” he added.
“The international break has come at a good time for us, with the injuries, we can work more on the training ground to prepare for the next Premier League game.”