Wednesday 07 March 2012
Sunderland goalkeeper Craig Gordon has spoken of his delight at being back in the first-team fold at the Stadium of Light.
The 29-year-old has not played since February 2011 due to a long-standing knee problem, but was back on the substitutes' bench for the 1-1 draw at Newcastle United on Sunday.
"It was nice to be back in the dressing room with the lads and experience that again," Gordon told the club's official website. "It's been a long time - a lot longer than I anticipated when I first got the injury - so it's good to be back.
"It's good to be back - it's been a long time coming"
- Craig Gordon
"Everything has seemed to come around at once. I probably have only been training at full pace for the last week or so and then I was off with the Scotland squad.
"I got a couple of days' good training under my belt with them and then came back here and was on the bench on Sunday. It's been a long time coming."
Gordon had surgery on his injured knee and then a long period of rehabilitation and he admits he is still doing more exercises to try and avoid picking up another injury.
"We tried lots of different things to improve the knee and I'm still doing extra work on it after training to try and strengthen it further," he added.
"I'm able to train at full pace and I'm feeling that sharpness now which was missing for a long time. That's a big plus for me.
"I've been working towards this for so long. I've felt good in the small-sided games over the past few days and it's nice to have that feeling again."
Gordon has played 94 matches for Sunderland but he will have to dislodge the club's number one Simon Mignolet and Keiren Westwood in order to get back on the pitch for Martin O'Neill's men.
"I'll be doing everything I can between now and the end of the season to try and get back in the team," said the Scottish international. "It's up to me to train hard, put some pressure on and prove that I am ready to start playing again.
"If I can keep my performance level up in training as I have been over the last few days I will be knocking on the door and looking to try and get a starting slot."