Wait worthwhile for returning Sunderland striker Campbell

Fraizer Campbell
Campbell was not due to return to first-team action for another three months

Fraizer Campbell admits the moment he scored Sunderland's equaliser against Middlesbrough made his "tough" 18-month battle against injury 'worthwhile'.

The 24-year-old striker came on to cancel out Barry Robson's first-half goal in Sunday's 1-1 FA Cup fourth-round Wear-Tees derby draw.

"You wait for days like this, they make it all worthwhile," said Campbell.

Campbell was playing his first football for more than 18 months after an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The former Manchester United forward picked up the injury after landing awkwardly in a game against Manchester City in August 2010, suffering a recurrence of the problem eight months later.

Surgery was performed and the diagnosis at that time was that he would be missing for 12 months, but he came back ahead of schedule against Middlesbrough to make an instant impression.

"I can't put into words what it felt like," said Campbell, a half-time replacement for Connor Wickham at the Stadium of Light. "It's been a really tough 18 months.

"I'm really looking forward to the replay and hopefully I can stay injury-free now.

"I'm delighted on a personal level but it was a sloppy first half from a team point of view. We let them dictate to us a bit too much at times.

"It was a local derby and that gave it some added spice but I think we deserved to draw."

It was a mixed afternoon for former Celtic midfielder Robson, who expertly dispatched a left-footed volley past Simon Mignolet, but then gave the ball away in the build-up to Campbell's equaliser.

Robson admitted to feeling 'bittersweet', but was pleased with how he and his team-mates acquitted themselves against Premier League opposition.

"It was the sort of pass you make nine times out of 10 but it was a slack pass from me," he said. "It's a bit bittersweet for me because that was a simple pass. The best of them do it.

"It's up to us to beat them in the replay now. We know what to expect from higher-level sides and we look forward to playing them at home."

Robson's error did not prevent him from picking up the man-of-the-match award at the end of a pulsating encounter, but Boro manager Tony Mowbray revealed that proved little consolation.

Mowbray said: "He came in and he threw his champagne in the bin. He is a very emotional boy, Barry, and yet he epitomises the spirit required as we as a club move on.

"Particularly in the Championship, you have to fight your corner every minute of every game, and Barry Robson leads from the front in that aspect."