Sunderland striker speaks out on his future and delivers a promising Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and Lee Johnson verdict
Sunderland striker Benji Kimpioka says he is ready to ‘fight’ for his goals upon his return to the Stadium of Light this summer.
The Swede is currently on loan with Torquay United in the National League after the early parts of his season had been disrupted by a serious hamstring injury sustained in a Premier League 2 fixture at Aston Villa.
Last summer saw Kimpioka heavily linked with an exit from the club as his contract came to an end, but his eyes are now focused simply on achieving his goals on Wearside.
And ahead of a pre-season campaign in which he and a number of the club’s youngsters are likely to get a chance to impress, the 21-year-old says he is ready to fight – having been left enthused by the early impacts of both Lee Johnson and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.
"The new coach has given me a lot of confidence,” said Kimpioka, speaking to fotbollskanalen.
"I like him and the new owner, so I look forward to my time there.
“I think I will stay in Sunderland, I feel very comfortable with the coach there.
"I still have goals that I set for myself and have not yet achieved. I really have to fight for these goals and then feel ready for the next step.”
Kimpioka also hopes to play his part in taking Sunderland back to the top flight.
"We have said it for many years and will continue to say it,” he added.
"This is a Premier League club, it’s not even a Championship club, we’ll be at the top.
"But it’s easier said than done. We have to let our game handle the talk.”
The forward’s injury earlier in the season was the first lengthy period of time that he has spent sidelined, and Kimpioka admits it was a difficult time for himself.
But he believes enduring the injury will serve him well in the long-run.
"Personally, I would probably say that it is among the toughest, if not the toughest, I have gone through in my life,” he admitted.
"I had just moved in, I lived alone and neither parent could come and help me.
"You know… the demons in your head, you think, you can not play football in six months, it can not be explained.
“I am grateful that I went through it, because it made me much stronger as a human being.
"You have to go through such things in life if you want to move forward. I’m very religious and I think this is one of God’s plans for me, so I’m not complaining.”
While currently on international duty with the Swedish under-21 side, Kimpioka could return to Torquay for their play-off semi-final clash against Notts County at the weekend.
It’s another challenge the forward is relishing.
"The Sunderland coach’s dad has a team in the National League that pushes for promotion to League Two, so he has wanted to have me down there and help them reach promotion.
"I felt it was perfect to get another challenge and I love challenges.”