ANTHONY PATTERSON is looking forward to ‘proving himself in the Championship’ after signing a new four-year deal with Sunderland.

Patterson was offered a new long-term contract after establishing himself as the Black Cats’ first-choice shot-stopper in the second half of last season.

The North Shields-born 22-year-old spent part of the first half of last term on loan at National League side Notts County, but was recalled when both Thorben Hoffmann and Lee Burge contracted Covid.

He ended up moving ahead of both goalkeepers in the pecking order under Alex Neil, and played an integral role in the impressive late-season run that took Sunderland into the play-offs.

He impressed in the semi-final against Sheffield Wednesday, making a crucial second-leg save from Lee Gregory, and produced another decisive stop in the Wembley final, saving from Sam Vokes after the Wycombe striker broke clear.

“I’ve had a brilliant year and couldn’t be happier to have signed a new contract,” said Patterson, who graduated through Sunderland’s youth set-up at the Academy of Light. “I joined the club when I was ten, so to play my part in promotion and winning at Wembley Stadium was a dream come true.

“I’m now focused on the new season and improving my overall game to ensure I prove myself in the Championship and continue to help the team.”

Lee Johnson promoted Patterson to the first-team set-up last summer, but while the youngster played in pre-season and started league matches against Wycombe and AFC Wimbledon last August, he was sent into non-league in order to gain some senior experience.

There was an element of serendipity to his return to the Stadium of Light, but he grasped his opportunity with both hands and Neil will be putting his faith in him again next season as Sunderland tackle life in the Championship.

“There is nothing better than seeing someone that has come through the academy, and is Sunderland through and through, doing the business in the first team,” said Neil. “It is great to reward him for what he has achieved, but he knows he can’t rest on his laurels because the easy part is done and the hard work now starts for him this season.”