JACK RODWELL is expected to make his Sunderland bow in tomorrow night’s pre-season friendly against Real Betis.
England international Rodwell completed the formalities of his £10million move from Manchester City yesterday after penning a five-year deal with the Black Cats.
The midfielder will train with his new team-mates for the first time today after the rest of the Sunderland squad have been given the last two days off, following their return from the pre-season trip to Portugal.
But Rodwell will not have to wait long for his first outing in Sunderland colours, with the 23-year-old pencilled in to play a part against Spanish Second Division outfit Betis, at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park ground tomorrow night.
With only two pre-season friendlies remaining for Sunderland, Gus Poyet is eager to fine-tune his preparations for the Premier League opener at West Brom on Saturday week.
And Rodwell, who has participated fully in Man City’s pre-season programme, is equally eager to resume playing regular first-team football after being limited to a bit-part role at the Etihad.
The Everton academy product was dogged by a reputation for being injury-prone after his first season at City was hampered by a succession of hamstring problems.
But Rodwell, the subject of a rejected January loan bid from former club Everton, was fit and available for around three-quarters of City’s games last season, yet found himself out of favour.
That cost Rodwell his England place and he admits his eagerness to return to the international fold was one of the key reasons behind his decision to join Sunderland.
Rodwell said: “The regular football. That’s the most important thing for me.
“I need to get back to enjoying it.
“The last couple of seasons, I wasn’t able to play as much football as I wanted to play.
“Watching the World Cup left a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth. I was obviously supporting the team, but I wanted to be there.
“I think it’s time to put that right, get back playing and get back in the England squad.”
More than half the Premier League were chasing Rodwell’s signature this summer, yet Sunderland have been dogged in the chase for his signature after holding several rounds of talks with his agent over the last two months.
Head coach Poyet has been keen to boost his options with a box-to-box midfielder and Rodwell is eager to fill that brief.
“There was a lot of media linking me to different teams,” he added.
“But I met up with the manager and all the people involved in the club and they came across really well.
“Their vision was really good and it swayed me.”