Patrick van Aanholt: Sunderland defender happy with fitness
Sunderland defender Patrick van Aanholt says he is fully fit after returning to first-team duty early from a shoulder injury in the FA Cup win over Leeds.
The Netherlands international full-back, 24, scored in the Cup victory and retained his place at left-back for Saturday's league defeat by Liverpool.
He injured the shoulder in November's 3-1 win at Crystal Palace.
"I've got no pain, my shoulder is fine and I'm ready to move on," Van Aanholt told BBC Newcastle.
"I feel good to be back with the team and it's fantastic to play."
Wearsiders boss Gus Poyet has also been without France international Anthony Reveillere through injury, as well as Billy Jones for much of the season.
Jones and Liverpool loanee Sebastian Coates have deputised in Van Aanholt's absence, though Poyet was quick to restore the former Chelsea player to his squad as quickly as possible.
"It was a risk because I was meant to be out for 12 weeks, and got back in seven and a half," continued Van Aanholt.
"But I spoke with everyone, trained with the team the day before and made the decision to play."
Although restricted from certain training sessions because of the injury, Van Aanholt was able to maintain his fitness away from the squad.
"I'd been running outside after four weeks to get my legs fit but I didn't have the contact," he said. "I'm still working on that in the gym but I am back fit."