Wes Brown says he was always confident he would be able to play a full Premier League campaign for Sunderland after a full pre-season.
The former Manchester United defender has been plagued by injuries since moving to the Stadium of Light but has been a much more consistent presence this term.
His partnership with another ex-United man John O'Shea at the heart of the defence could prove crucial to Sunderland's chances of avoiding the drop, and Brown is delighted to have played more of a part this season.
"It's been good. I've obviously had a few knocks here and there and I maybe don't train every day," he said.
"But it's been great for me to play so many games. I've tried to focus on being ready for the weekend and that's been the main thing really.
"I know I was out all of last season, but I came in during the summer.
"I came back pretty much fit at the start of the season, if I'm being honest.
"Pre-season was really hard and I managed to get through all of it and I think that was a good start. In previous seasons, I'd never really had that full pre-season.
"I always thought I was going to be all right, it was everyone else who didn't!"comments