JACK RODWELL admits it has been tough to blow off the cobwebs from his Manchester City days after completing his first 90 minutes for Sunderland.
Rodwell was arguably Sunderland’s best performer in Saturday’s dire stalemate at Burnley, as the winless Black Cats lurched to a fourth draw from five Premier League outings.
The £10million summer signing has understandably struggled to get up to speed in the early stages of his Sunderland career after making just seven league starts during two years at City.
But Rodwell believes the match sharpness is beginning to return after comfortably lasting the duration at Turf Moor.
The midfielder said: “I felt good out there. I’m getting fitter and have played my first 90 of the season.
“I had a couple of chances, one when I could have took it earlier. On another day, I might have got a goal.
“It’s been hard. Fitness-wise, I’ve been on the training field every day, but it’s match fitness. You can’t buy that.
“You can train as much as you want, but it’s not the same.
“The anticipation and just being alert comes with games.
“It’s felt like a long lay-off. It’s hard when you play one game and then miss the next six.
“But I’ve had four or five games now and long may it continue really.”
Rodwell admits Sunderland didn’t offer enough of a goal threat at Burnley to record a first Premier League victory of the campaign, albeit Patrick van Aanholt almost snatched it in stoppage time when his long-range drive hit the post.
But the 23-year-old says Sunderland need to make the most of back-to-back Stadium of Light outings - tomorrow’s Capital One Cup third round visit of Stoke, followed by Premier League clashes against Swansea and the Potters - to get their season up and running.
“We’ve got three home games on the spin now, so we need to make them count,” he added.
“I think it was a missed chance (at Burnley).
“I thought we passed it okay and defended okay, but just lacked that spark really.
“We came in at half-time and said it’s here for us, but we didn’t capitalise on that.
“It’s another point on the board, but we need to be winning those type of games really if we want to be pushing up the table.
“We just lacked that goal threat in the final third; that killer pass, cross or bit of spark from someone.
“If you don’t win, you don’t get beat and that’s what the manager said. We got no goals against, so that’s a positive.
“It was a great strike by Patrick.