JOEL LYNCH wants to ensure he has something to celebrate come the end of his career by helping Sunderland to promotion and, hopefully, beyond.

The 31-year-old’s career has taken him from Brighton to Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield and Queens Park Rangers and, despite playing for decent sized clubs, has not got to enjoy much at the end of campaigns.

Now, having left his twenties behind, Lynch has a different outlook as he looks to make the most of his chance to revive a stuttering career on Wearside at a club he feels should be much higher.

Lynch has spent the international break working on his fitness to prove to manager Jack Ross he is ready to make the step back on to the first team stage having signed as a free agent. He has also watched clips of Sunderland’s performances to gain an insight into the team’s shape.

He was surprised that it took him so long to find a new club having left QPR at the end of last season, but now he is out to make the most of his chance at the Stadium of Light.

“It was weird, being unemployed and wondering why there wasn’t that interest,” said Lynch. “I was seeing every other day clubs taking younger lads from Premier League teams, and I think that’s the way it’s going. I think a lot of teams in the Championship have overspent in the past, so they’re going for loans and cheaper deals.

“I was on a decent deal at the time with QPR, I was waiting and waiting, I had a few sort of offers and half offers, and then decided to take up the challenge with Sunderland and start again.

“I’ve been in football long enough to know, I’ve not really had that success, I’ve always been in a mediocre side (at their level). I haven’t had much play-off experience or won things, and I’ve always wanted that. The challenge here would be good for that. I’ve always thought about the best deal, but for me now it’s about being part of something and having that feeling back.

“My career hasn’t always been what I wanted, I’ve wanted that success so badly and being part of Sunderland, a team that should be winning or is winning, that’s what I wanted to be part of. It’s a massive club. If it goes up, it’s the biggest club in the Championship. To get 30,000 fans every week in League One, that’s just madness. I don’t know any player who wouldn’t take that if they’re offered it.”

Lynch knows it will not be straight forward for him to get straight into Ross’ team. There is plenty competition in the defensive roles he plays, in the middle and on the left.

He said: “They’re top players here. I’m not expecting just to walk in and play because I’ve played games in the Championship the last few years, I know what it takes to play for Sunderland. The competition in my position is good and I’m going to have to be at by absolute best to get in the team, I understand it. The first aim is to get as fit as I can and hopefully be part of the team.

“It’s been tough for me. At QPR I thought I was going to stay on but they lowered their wage budget and the way that they’re going about things has completely changed.

“It was a situation where I had to leave and then the market itself has been tough. A lot of young players are being signed, clubs are looking at future prospects. It was a tough time because I thought I’d get straight back in. When Sunderland came in it was just a no brainer, regardless of the drop down (to League One).”