Jimmy Dunne says the pressure of the League One promotion race will improve him as a player.
The Irish defender has quickly pushed his way into first team contention on Wearside, making his second appearance
After an excellent first half of the season at Hearts, Dunne had a number of options as to where he went next.
He chose Sunderland and the chance to push himself 'outside of his comfort zone'.
He also revealed that a popular former Black Cat was quick to sell the club in a very positive light.
"Phil Bardsley did talk to me about the club," Dunne said.
"How highly he rates it, how much he enjoyed his time here. That was certainly something I listened to and enjoyed listening to.
"It's not just the size of the club, it's the pressure and expectation that comes with that. It's got a huge history, and being part of something potentially amazing, you want that.
"I needed somewhere where I could keep learning and keep pushing forward.
"I want to thrive on that pressure, being out of your comfort zone is how you improve as a player.
"If you're too comfortable you won't push forward so the pressure of the club is going to improve.
"I'm glad that the expectation is so high."
Dunne has had to quickly adapt to a new division but there are already positive signs.
"In League One there's not a lot of time to settle in so you've just go to kind of jump in and go for it. I've tried to do that.
"The leagues I've been in previously have all been very physical ones so that's a part of my game now.
"This is a really positive place, a really positive learning environment where everyone wants to get better."