JACK RODWELL has rejected suggestions he has taken a risk by signing for Sunderland, and expressed confidence he will not be involved in a repeat of last season’s relegation battle.

Rodwell turned down eight other Premier League clubs in order to complete a £10m move to Wearside, spurning the likes of Tottenham, Everton, West Ham and Swansea, as well as rebuffing approaches from Spanish duo Valencia and Villarreal.

Instead, he signed a five-year deal at the Stadium of Light to join a club that had looked to be heading to the Championship before a remarkable run in the final month of last season.

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Plenty of people have questioned the wisdom of Rodwell’s decision, but having made his first Black Cats appearance in Thursday’s friendly win over Real Betis, the 23-year-old is satisfied he has made the right move.

“I know Sunderland struggled last season, but that wasn’t part of my thinking,” said Rodwell, who is expected to be involved again when the Wearsiders complete their pre-season programme against Udinese this afternoon. "Gus Poyet enjoyed a fine end to last season, even though he didn’t have a lot of time to turn things around.

“It takes a while for any new manager to do that, but he managed to do it in the end. He said it was a miracle, but I don’t think it was.

“It was just good management and I believe this is a club going in the right direction. It will be better from now on.”

Rodwell’s career has stagnated since he completed a £15m move from Everton to Manchester City in 2012, but the midfielder is confident he has lost none of the qualities that saw him touted as one of the most talented teenagers in Europe, and is determined to rebuild his reputation in the North-East.

“In the last couple of years, I’ve just not played as much football as I would have liked to,” he said. “If I’d been playing regularly for the last two years, I believe I probably would have been up there with the best.

“I certainly think I would have been playing at the World Cup. It’s just not worked out over the last two seasons, but I’m here now to put that right.”