NAZARIY Rusyn has opened up on his "difficult" first season at Sunderland, telling of how he was playing catch-up with his fitness when he joined the Black Cats and revealing his struggles in his first four months.

Rusyn was a target for Sunderland all last summer but didn't end up completing his move to the Stadium of Light until September 1, by which time the Black Cats were already four games into the season.

He didn't make his debut until the last week of September and his first start wasn't until the last week of October.

He missed a couple of games in November and December with a groin problem - an issue that was troubling him before his move to Wearside - and although he finally ended his wait for a Sunderland goal in the New Year's Day win over Preston, only one more would follow before he missed the last two months of the campaign with a calf injury.

"It was a difficult season for me," he said in conversation with media in Ukraine.

"I moved to a completely new country and a new team. Before the move, I hardly trained for about a month and a half - only in the gym, because I had problems with my groin muscles and had to heal them.

"When I arrived, they were already playing the seventh round, so I slowly started to get acquainted with the Championship and get in shape. The language also played a role - it was very important, and I didn’t know it.

"In general, football is not only a football field, but also a lot more beyond it.

"The first four months were very difficult for me. Then it got better, but then I got injured, it happens, it’s football. I don’t want the injury to serve as any kind of excuse for me, so I’ll just state that the season was unsuccessful for me."


Rusyn wasn't joined in the UK by his family until the winter months and Tony Mowbray, Michael Beale and Mike Dodds all told of the need for patience with the forward as he got to grips with the language and his new surroundings.

Despite speculation linking Rusyn with a loan move back to his homeland this summer, the 25-year-old says he's happy on Wearside.

"I like it here, my family likes it here, so everything is fine," he said.

"I think Sunderland is a good city for family life."

Sunderland's players returned to the Academy of Light for the start of pre-season over the weekend, with new head coach Regis Le Bris officially starting work today.

Rusyn will hope to catch the eye of the new boss and make an impact in his second season at the club.

He said: "We were given an off-season program, and I followed it. I think I’m ready for pre-season training."