MICHAEL BEALE does not think it is a coincidence that Nazariy Rusyn’s changed domestic situation has helped spark his best spell at Sunderland.

Having opened his account for the Black Cats when he scored against Preston on New Year’s Day, Rusyn claimed his second goal in English football when he fired home a late equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Middlesbrough.

The Ukrainian admits he has struggled to settle in England following his summer move from Zorya Luhansk, and it is only in the last few weeks that his family have relocated from his war-torn homeland to Wearside.


Beale understands why the 25-year-old took time to get used to his new surrounds, but is hoping he will become an increasingly influential performer in the remainder of the season.

“His family are here now, so I’ve seen a difference in him,” said Beale. “Naturally, you would if you’re a father and living away. Where he’s from, there’s a war going on, and he’s a long way away from his wife and child. They’re here now, which is fantastic for him on a personal level.

“I think all the time his English improves, he’ll have better connections with his team-mates on the pitch. At the moment, I think his energy, his pressing and his work ethic are great, but it’s just that connection that’s missing.

“I also think he’s probably played 75 per cent of his football as a left-winger coming in, so I’m not saying he’s not a number nine, but I am saying that he’s more than that. He gets his goal pulling into the wide areas, which he likes.

“There’s a lot said about recruiting this or that, but my job is to work with the players that are here in front of me, and I’ve been really pleased with him and Mason (Burstow) since I’ve come to the club.”

Rusyn’s strike, which crept under Middlesbrough goalkeeper Tom Glover, enabled Sunderland to claim a point after they had fallen behind to a 61st-minute effort from Marcus Forss.

The Black Cats wasted a gilt-edged chance before the break when Abdoullah Ba shot straight at Rav van den Berg from close range, so while Boro were the better side for much of the second half, Beale felt a draw was probably the right result.

“If you can’t win, it’s a big point,” said the Sunderland boss. “How big, we don't know yet. But I think as the away team, we'll be more pleased going home.

“I think we saw the good and the indifferent from our team today. Parts of our play were really good, the midfield battle was intriguing, but when the going gets tough we need to stay in it and at the start of the second half we weren't winning enough duels right across the pitch. Then, all of a sudden, in the last 20 minutes our tails were up and we were. That's the evolution of our team, when we come away, we need to be at it for 90 minutes because it's so tight.”