Sunderland midfielder Julio Arca is promising manager Peter Reid a return to the form which launched him on to the Premiership scene with a bang as a teenager.
The now 21-year-old Argentinian was a massive hit in his first season in England after clinching a £3.5m (€5.5m) move from Argentinos Juniors back in the summer of 2000.
However, a combination of fatigue and a persistent groin injury severely limited him last season, and he was badly missed as the Wearsiders laboured through a season which they will be happy to forget.
But now the South American is back in harness and raring to go after going through his paces in the club’s first pre-season friendly in France at the weekend.
‘‘My first season at the club was great,’’ he said. ‘‘I was surprised how many games I played and the club had a successful season.
‘‘Last season was harder. I couldn’t get a proper run in the side and I’m hoping that that will change this season.
‘‘Last season was difficult for me because of the injury and the fact that I had played so much football continuously. But I feel great at the moment and am really looking forward to the new season.
‘‘I really hope that we can have a good season. The fans deserve good performances and results from us too because they care so much about the club and give us such great support.’’
Arca played the first half of the Black Cats’ 2-1 defeat by Amiens on Saturday in which fellow midfielder Gavin McCann received his marching orders.
Reid, who was without star striker Kevin Phillips, tried out a new 4-3-1-2 formation with Irishman Thomas Butler playing behind the strikers, and although the result did not go his side’s way, Arca liked the new system.
‘‘Against Amiens, we played with a narrower formation and gave Thomas the job of playing just behind the front two,’’ he told the club’s official website, www.safc.com.
‘‘It was something different to what we do normally and I welcome that because I think it is good to adapt.
‘‘Next season, I think we’ll be looking to do things a bit differently and hopefully it’ll bring better results. That is what we’re all aiming for.’’