Josh Maja says he is nearing a return to full fitness after a long lay-off with his knee.
Maja was the star of Sunderland's early pre-season campaign, before injury forced him off during a 3-2 win at Bradford.
He made his much awaited comeback for the U23's against Arsenal last month but had to pull out of a game with Everton days later after feeling his knee in the warm-up.
The 18-year-old hopes to be back in action soon and is aiming to pick up where he left off.
He told safc.com: "It has been very frustrating because of how well I did in pre-season.
"I put a lot of work in over pre-season, I worked hard but hopefully I can return to full fitness and get a chance in the first team.
"I am feeling better, each day I feel stronger and my knee is feeling much better so hopefully it won’t be too long now before I can get some game time.
"It is a big opportunity, but I need to take it," he added.
"I want to stamp my authority in the first team and get back to how I was playing in pre-season because I was scoring goals and playing well.
"I need to prove the quality I have again and again, hopefully I can get myself on the teamsheet when I am back."