ROBBIN RUITER only joined Sunderland in August, but, like his team-mates, he has forgotten what it feels like to win at home.

Not only has the Dutchman failed to enjoy a victory in any of his six matches at the Stadium of Light, it has already gone beyond a year since he last got to celebrate a win on home turf on a personal level.

While Sunderland’s record-breaking winless 21-match run will go over a full calendar year if they fail to defeat Fulham tomorrow, Ruiter has already passed that mark.

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The last time the 30-year-old got to enjoy a win in front of his club’s owns fans was on November 6, 2016, when he helped FC Utrecht to a 2-1 win over Excelsior in the Eredivisie.

His final appearance for Utrecht at the Stadion Galgenwaard arrived a few weeks later when they drew 3-3 with Feyenoord and he suffered a freak collarbone injury when he fell awkwardly in the second half.

So, even though he is relatively new to life on Wearside, Ruiter knows all about the importance of securing wins in front of his own fans – and he would love to finally help deliver one tomorrow.

“It’s a big game but every game for us is a big game for us at the moment,” said Ruiter, with Sunderland sitting in the bottom three.

“We have grown as a team and our self-confidence is growing and we play better week after week.

“Sometimes the only way is not up. Sometimes we will fall down but we stand up again and that was really important for us last week at Wolves.

“We showed what we can do and what we’re capable of and I think on the ball we can still improve a lot but if we can give everyone the fighting spirit we showed there then we will be alright at Sunderland.”

Even though Ruiter made his comeback in the Eredivisie season at Alkmaar in May, he still missed a large chunk of pre-season while he looked for a club as a free agent.

The length of time he spent out is likely to have impacted on his own confidence levels but he feels like he is finally edging back to his best, although his first few months have seen him commit a number of errors as a Sunderland keeper.

Under Chris Coleman he has kept two clean sheets from four games, including at Wolves last weekend when the ten-man Black Cats held the leaders to a goalless draw.

Ruiter said: “That clean sheet was necessary. We’re all really happy with the clean sheets.

“If you keep a clean sheet you only need one goal and if you don’t, if you’re conceding three or four goals you’ve got to score three, four or five goals.

“That’s was one of the most important things and hopefully we can continue to keep clean sheets because it will be crucial for us moving forward, starting with the game with Fulham hopefully.”

Sunderland will have to make one change to face the Cottagers because of Lee Cattermole's suspension. Coleman is set to deliver an update on the injury front today, with youngster Elliot Embleton a candidate to slot in to the side.