New defender reveals his two Sunderland ambitions after overcoming injury hell

Reece James.
Reece James.

Reece James jumped at the chance to join Sunderland - and he believes the players have a duty to fans to produce quality football and win promotion.

James became Jack Ross’ sixth summer signing when he signed a one-year deal this summer.

The 24-year-old wore the red and white stripes for the first time in the 1-0 friendly defeat to Darlington.

Ross admitted afterwards the squad had a lot of work to do to be ready for the assault on League One and James says the players will be giving “everything” this campaign in a bid to win promotion.

Sunderland were backed by around 900 supporters at Blackwell Meadows and the left-back has been impressed with the passion of the Sunderland fanbase since arriving on Wearside.

James is aiming to repay the supporters with promotion back to the Championship following successive relegations.

“I’ve only been here a few days but all around the town you just see Sunderland shirts everywhere,” said James.

“You see how much passion the fans have got for the club.

“At Darlington there were so many fans who had made the effort to travel and come and watch us play.

“You’ve only got to look at that to see how well supported this club is.

“It’s our duty now to make sure we give them everything they should be able to watch - the quality of football and promotion.”

The former Wigan and Manchester United man will offer competition in the full-back department.

James played 28 games last season as Wigan won the League One title and Ross believes his attacking prowess will be vital for Sunderland this campaign.

His welcome return to action last season came after a serious ankle injury first suffered in early 2016.

“I had a bad injury at Wigan which kept me out for 20 months and that was quite difficult,” said James.

“My first operation failed, I came back from the next operation and that failed.

“It just kind of went from there and became a big problem until I eventually got it sorted.

“I got as many games in there between injuries as I could and I felt I played well.

“But my time had come at Wigan and as soon as I got the phonecall from Sunderland I was delighted to come and sign here.

“I’ve not had an in issue with my ankle for 12 months and I took a tackle on it at Darlington. It was quite a hefty one and it stood up well so I know there are no issues there at all.

“It’s just about building momentum for me because the more games I play consecutively, everything starts to come back.

“As soon as you build momentum everything goes from there and hopefully I can get going and play really well.”

James, who spent time with his new teammates in Portugal last week, has settled in quickly.

“It’s been really good. All the lads and staff have made me really welcome,” he added.

“It was good to meet everyone in Portugal, and it’s been really good to get back to Sunderland and see all the facilities at the training ground and get going back here.

“I had a phone call and it all happened quite quickly. As soon as I heard Sunderland were interested I just wanted to come and sign.

“It was just a little bit too late to travel out with the boys I ended up coming out the next day.

“I got the medical done and me and Dylan (McGeouch) got a flight out there together,” added James.