sport

Roberge to fight for place

Valentin Roberge has no intention of turning his back on Sunderland, with the defender prepared to fight for his future.

The French centre-half arrived at the Stadium of Light as a free agent in 2013 after running down his deal at Portuguese side Maritimo.

He found first-team football hard to come by throughout his debut campaign in England, starting just nine games.

It has been suggested that Roberge could be tempted back to his homeland this summer, with interest said to be mounting, especially as Gus Poyet remains in the market for new recruits.

The 27-year-old has, however, vowed to stick around on Wearside and prove his worth.

When asked if he has contemplated moving on, Roberge told the Echo: \"No, I knew coming from Portugal that it wasn't going to be easy to adapt.

\"I could have made the easy decision and stayed in Portugal, but my dream was to try something different.

\"The best things don't always come too quickly. I played, I didn't play, I played, I didn't play. But I just had to stay strong in my head and work, prepare well for every game and show the manager what I could do.

\"It's the league that everyone wants to play in.

\"Last year was good preparation for this year. I had to be patient, which was not easy. But it's a new season and I just want to work hard and then see what happens.

\"I hope to play more games this year. I don't know what will happen with the manager's decision. But all I can do is work, work, work.\"

Roberge also hopes that by remaining on Sunderland's books he can continue to benefit from the vast experience of those around him - such as Wes Brown and John O'Shea.

He added: \"They've both got so much experience.

\"A lot of times last season, I just watched them. I've learned a lot and now I hope I can play more with them.

\"There are obviously several things I need to improve in my game - physically and in the air. But I worked hard on them last season. I hope that I can continue to improve.\"