Christian Bassila may have played only seven Premiership games in spells with West Ham and now at Sunderland, but the Frenchman is already a self-confessed fan of the English game.

The midfielder is hoping to return to action against Aston Villa at the weekend after a hamstring injury, and in his five games for the Black Cats he has already seen how the game has changed since his time at Upton Park.

The 28-year-old played only four times for the Hammers during a loan spell five years ago, but the difference this time round is in the intensity of the play.

"I like the mentality in England, the players keep going all the time, they are strong physically and mentally," said Bassila.

"The Premiership has changed since I was last here. For me it's more intense. All the good players want to come here. It is quicker and tougher, you need to concentrate for more than 90 minutes because you can be punished at any time, by any player.

"I'm pleased I was here when I was younger because I have that experience and that has helped me settle.

"I was only 21, so I was still learning and I struggled with my English."

He may have spent only a short time on Wearside, but Bassila has impressed both the fans and his team-mates with the quality he has added to the Sunderland side.

His previous spell in England has helped him adapt quickly to the pace of the Premier League and he has every intention of ensuring he makes a much bigger impact this time around.

The former Strasbourg player is monitoring his diet in a bid to stay in tip-top condition and help the Black Cats in their relation fight.

He said: "I am a better player now than I was at West Ham, but the experience of playing in the Premiership has helped me settle quickly. I just need my English to come back some more, but I am happier here than I was at West Ham.

"It's not been difficult because it wasn't all new to me. I knew about the food and the weather, it wasn't a totally new culture.

"I like the food, I've eaten very well because I eat food that a professional footballer must eat, lots of protein to refuel.

"I also have professionals cooking for me so I probably eat better than I would if I was back at home."

Bassila is determined to play his part in the Wearsider's bid to climb the league and believes Sunderland will only be at their best once their top players are all injury-free.

"I am desperate to get back but I can't rush things," said Bassila, who came though 45 minutes for the reserves last week against Wolves - a game that saw Stephen Wright play his first competitive game since the 3-1 defeat to Charlton on the opening day of the season.

"I want to train well and have a good game for the reserves, then we can talk about playing again for the first team.

"We have other good players coming back from injury so hopefully we will be able to put out our strongest side again soon."

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