Jan Kirchhoff is over the moon to be back in training with his team-mates following a 10-week spell on the sidelines.
The German opted to remain on Wearside when the first team travelled to New York, trading Central Park sprints for a week-long period with the club’s under-23s.
And it had the desired effect, with Kirchhoff returning to training alongside his team-mates as over 7,000 supporters descended on the Stadium of Light to back the Black Cats ahead of Saturday’s trip to Everton.
“It was a great feeling to get back onto the pitch and an even better feeling to do it in front of an incredible atmosphere,” beamed Kirchhoff.
“It’s so nice that so many fans found their way to the Stadium of Light to watch us train and give us a real lift."
He continued: “It’s tough to be out because during you rehab you have to train on your own, so it’s good to be with the team again.
“I used last week as the next phase of my rehab schedule because I needed team training, so I worked with the under-23s instead of travelling to New York.
“It was better for my personal development if I stayed here and trained, and it was good for me as I’m now back with the team and I hope I can play my role and help the club.
“Our goal is to stay in the Premier League and we will all do our best to achieve that.”