Sunderland Echo - - Front page - By Richard Men­n­ear­n­ Twit­ter: @RichMen­n­earJP

Robbin Ruiter is deter­mined to fight for his Sun­der­land place – and prove to sup­port­ers how good a goal­keeper he is.

The Sun­der­land squad is un­der­go­ing ma­jor re­con­struc­tion fol­low­ing suc­ces­sive rel­e­ga­tions, with ques­tion marks over the heads of sev­eral first-team play­ers.

While at­tempts to move on the likes of Lamine Kone, Papy Djilo­bodji and Di­dier Ndong con­tinue, Ruiter has made it clear that he sees his fu­ture on Wear­side.

The 31-year-old joined last sum­mer but en­dured a dif­fi­cult de­but sea­son in Eng­land through in­jury and poor form.

His cam­paign was ended early in Fe­bru­ary af­ter he badly dis­lo­cated his fin­ger.

Now fully fit, Ruiter is hop­ing to win back his place and is look­ing for­ward to bat­tling with sum­mer sign­ing Jon McLaugh­lin.

“I was re­ally un­lucky last year with in­jury, I al­ways said to every­body that it is an hon­our and a big chal­lenge for me to play at Sun­der­land,” said Ruiter.

“I have had some good mo­ments and some less good mo­ments last sea­son. I think I can do way bet­ter than I showed last sea­son and I want to show every­body what kind of goal­keeper I am.

“For me, the chal­lenge is to play every week and to show my­self in a pos­i­tive way and hope­fully we can do it as a whole team, play at the top of the league.

“We all have that goal, to get back to the Cham­pi­onship as soon as pos­si­ble.

“Jon [McLaugh­lin] is a re­ally good lad – we are both at a sim­i­lar age.

“We get on re­ally well to­gether and sup­port each other in train­ing and games and push each other to a higher level.

“At the end of the day, the gaffer will make the de­ci­sion in terms of who plays and who doesn’t. If it is me, then Jon will sup­port me and if it is Jon I will sup­port him.

“We all have the main goal to get Sun­der­land back to the Cham­pi­onship.”

Ruiter started the 1-0 friendly de­feat to Dar­ling­ton on Tues­day, with McLaugh­lin not risked be­cause of a groin in­jury.

Ruiter is ex­pected to play some part in to­mor­row’s friendly with Hartle­pool United at Vic­to­ria Park (KO 3pm), with the Black Cats to be backed by more than 2,000 fans.

For Ruiter, he is de­lighted to be back play­ing af­ter a frus­trat­ing – and lengthy – spell on the side­lines.

Sun­der­land have four pre­sea­son fix­tures left be­fore the League One cam­paign kicks off with the visit of Charl­ton on Au­gust 4.

A lot has changed since Ruiter last wore a Sun­der­land shirt, with rel­e­ga­tion to the third tier, a new owner in Ste­wart Don­ald, new man­ager in Jack Ross and six sign­ings – so far.

“It is great to be back out on the pitch. Ob­vi­ously it has been a while af­ter my fin­ger in­jury last sea­son which ended my sea­son,” added Ruiter.

“I did my re­hab all sum­mer in Hol­land and trained over there and every­thing is now fine.

“I feel com­fort­able on the pitch again.

“I’ve had a good cou­ple of weeks train­ing since we re­turned and these were my first real min­utes in a game.

“We all have that goal, to get back to the Cham­pi­onship as soon as pos­si­ble”

I am happy to be back.

“A lot has changed since my last game! Un­for­tu­nately not in a good way last sea­son [with rel­e­ga­tion].

“Things hap­pen and we have to deal with it and move on – there is a new, big chal­lenge in front of us.

“Hope­fully we can have a good sea­son with new own­ers, new man­ager. Every­thing is new.

“We need to look for­ward now and move on.”

Ruiter ad­mits it has been a sum­mer like no other given the raft of changes on and off the pitch at the Sta­dium of Light.

He added: “Of course it is a bit strange.

“Nor­mally dur­ing the sum­mer there will al­ways be changes at a club, al­ways. It doesn’t mat­ter what team, what club, there is al­ways changes.

“Some­times the man­ager or play­ers com­ing in and out, but this year at Sun­der­land there has been a lot of changes with the new owner and man­ager, a dif­fer­ent league.

“You can be re­ally neg­a­tive about every­thing [rel­e­ga­tion], but we need to move for­ward now and take the pos­i­tives.

“Hope­fully we can learn from our mis­takes in the past, look for­ward and make it a good sea­son. That is the most im­por­tant thing.

“You can’t make any dif­fer­ence to the past, but we can to the fu­ture.”

Sun­der­land keeper Rob­bion Ruiter punches clear un­der pres­sure in Jan­uary’s calami­tous 4-0 loss at Cardiff

Ruiter di­rects op­er­a­tions last sea­son (above) and is beaten for Dar­ling­ton’s friendly win­ner (be­low)

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