PATRICK van Aanholt is eager to make up for lost time after an “incredibly frustrating” spell on the treatment table.
The left-back made a surprisingly quick return from a dislocated shoulder in Sunderland’s FA Cup third round tie against Leeds United.
And the Dutchman went on to score the winner as Sunderland beat their Championship opponents 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.
Van Aanholt had been out since suffering the injury in the win at Crystal Palace in early-November, and although he has returned well ahead of schedule, he found his spell out tough to cope with.
He said: “It’s been a quick recovery, but it’s still felt like a very long one for me because I’m not used to getting injured.
“Thankfully it hasn’t taken as long as we thought at the time.
“I was supposed to be out for 12 weeks when it first happened, but in the end I made it back in eight so I’m four weeks ahead of schedule.
“I’ve been doing a lot of work with the physio, and we made a plan together and stuck to it. I managed to get fit quite quickly.
“For any player who gets injured, and knows they’re going to have to be out for a couple of months, it’s incredibly frustrating.
“You want to be on the pitch and part of the team, but you can’t do that. I’ve been watching the games from up in the stands, and it’s hard because you want to be on the pitch contributing.”
In van Aanholt’s absence, Sunderland have been without an available specialist left-back.
He was not expected to be involved against Leeds, but after talks with head coach Gus Poyet, declared himself fit to play.
The former Chelsea man added: “I was meant to start training with the group yesterday, but the gaffer just called me up and said, ‘How do you feel about training on Friday and then playing in the game at the weekend?’.
“I said, ‘I’ll see how I feel after training, and if I feel comfortable enough, I’ll definitely play’. If I hadn’t felt good, I would have waited another week.
“I’ve got my chance to be back in the team now, and I’m happy to have taken it.
“Making lots of runs and trying to get forward, that’s my game, so I was always going to be looking to do that as soon as I got back.
“Everyone knows that I like to get forward and I’m happy to have been able to do that against Leeds. Hopefully, I showed to everyone that I’m back and ready to help out the team.”