NAZARIY Rusyn wants to stay at Sunderland and make a success of his time on Wearside, according to fresh reports coming out of Ukraine.

It was claimed over the weekend that Ukrainian top flight clubs - including Premier League newcomers Karpaty - wanted to take Rusyn back to his homeland and were eyeing up a potential loan with a view to make a deal permanent down the line.

But fresh reports in Ukraine have rubbished that speculation, insisting there's been no contact between Rusyn and linked clubs. Sunderland are said to be keen to keep Rusyn, who is committed to the Black Cats and determined to kick on next term after a challenging first season on Wearside.

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Rusyn only started nine Championship games and scored just two goals after joining Sunderland from Zorya Luhansk last summer. But Tony Mowbray, Michael Beale and Mike Dodds all called for patience with the 25-year-old, who couldn't speak the language when he arrived in the UK and has taken time to adapt and settle on and off the pitch.

Rusyn missed the last nine games of the season with a calf injury, but Dodds said the forward is starting to feel at home on Wearside and believes that will show next season.

“I do think from the start of next season, pre-season is going to be really important for him because I think those factors we’ve been talking about have been taken away really," said Dodds recently.

“His family are here with him, his language has got a lot better, he's a lot more settled in the region and has got a place (for his home). So, there'll be a little more pressure on him, but I think we'll see a better reflection of him as a player.”

Looking back on Rusyn's first campaign with Sunderland, Dodds said: “I think his season has been a little bit clunky in that he's come into the club and doesn't speak the language, which I always think is difficult for any player. There was an issue with the visa for his family and so he initially was here by himself, that wasn't the initial plan and so I think that was probably a bit of a hammer blow for him at the time.

“Then you factor in all the other things, a completely different style of play, a different part of the world. It's a different way of life. When you actually reflect, Naz is one who you would probably want more from, but to have expected more from him would have been really harsh.”

Addressing the forward line is a key priority for Sunderland this summer, with the incoming head coach - whoever it is - no doubt keen to bolster an attack that disappointed this term.

Mason Burstow has returned to Chelsea after his underwhelming loan spell at the Stadium of Light, leaving Sunderland with three strikers in Rusyn, Hemir and Eliezer Mayenda. Hemir didn't look ready for the Championship in his first season with the Black Cats, while Mayenda only made two appearances on loan at Hibs in the second half of the season.


Both Hemir and Mayenda would likely benefit from loans next season, but that will depend on who comes in. There's no doubt Sunderland will look to add forwards this summer, but during his spell as interim head coach, Dodds said the Black Cats wouldn't necessarily look for a No.9 and might instead target more fluid and versatile forwards.

Jobe Bellingham was used as a striker at times this season and Dodds has previously backed the former Birmingham youngster to establish himself as Sunderland's first choice frontman. It will be down to the new head coach to decide where he thinks Sunderland will get the best out of the talented teenager.

The Black Cats are continuing the process of speaking to head coach candidates having whittled down their last of targets over recent months.