Liam Bridcutt believes his former Chelsea team-mate Patrick van Aanholt has made the right decision to further his career at Sunderland.
The duo came through the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge together, before going their separate ways when Bridcutt joined Brighton & Hove Albion in 2010 in search of first-team football and then following Gustavo Poyet to Sunderland in January.
Bridcutt and van Aanholt have now been reunited on Wearside, with the Dutch left-back joining the Black Cats last week – also in the hope of regular first-team games, after failing to make a Premier League start in seven years with the club.
Midfielder Bridcutt believes his friend will come into his own at Sunderland, given a chance in the side.
“He’s a very good player, he’s shown his quality in training over the last week or so and hopefully he can take that into the games,” said Bridcutt.
“He’s very quick. With me, I had to drop down a few leagues to build myself up to get here. Pat was like myself, he was at Chelsea, but wasn’t getting the opportunities. Now he’s got a great chance to come here and work with a top manager.”
Bridcutt has now recovered from a knee injury that he picked up towards the end of last season. He said: “I was carrying a little injury from last season. I had to get myself right to get back.
“I’ve still been able to do a full pre-season.
“It was just a case of being cautious really and not rushing into things.
“All credit to the medical team, they’ve given me enough time to get right and be ready for the games. I was probably a week behind the lads, but I’ve caught up with all the running now – early mornings on my own.
“I think that was the hardest part. When you’re with the rest of the lads, you help each other through it, but mentally you’ve got to dig in when you’re on your own.”
The Black Cats have reportedly joined the race to sign Blues winger Christian Atsu.
The Ghanaian has been linked with Everton, Aston Villa and West Ham over the summer, but Sunderland are also believed to have expressed an interest.
Reports in London suggest that the Black Cats have been given permission to speak to the 22-year-old over a possible loan move.
Poyet wants four new players in place by next Wednesday, and a winger is understood to be high on his shopping list – and Atsu would fit the bill perfectly.
SUNDERLAND have announced a final pre-season friendly against Italian side Udinese.
The Black Cats will take on the Serie A outfit on Saturday, August 9, at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park (kick-off 3pm). Tickets for the game will be priced £15 adults, £5 for over 65s and under 16s, with details of where and how to buy yet to be confirmed.
The Udinese friendly will round off Sunderland’s pre-season campaign, which has already seen them win against Darlington 1883, Carlisle United, Hartlepool United and Recreativo de Huelva. Following last night’s clash with Portuguese side CD Nacional, the Black Cats’ next opponents are Vitoria Setubal on Saturday and then Real Betis a week tomorrow.