The 23-year old has struggled to make an impact at the Stadium of Light since joining from Cork City in 2008 but is looking to revamp his career under Martin O'Neill and turn himself into a required part of the Black Cats squad.
"When we came back into pre-season, me and the manager sat down and had a talk about things," he told the Shields Gazette.
"He said he didn't really know yet what I was capable of and he wanted to find out in pre-season.
"I told him that suited me fine, because all I wanted to do was prove myself to him.
"Anyone who knows me knows that I just want to play for Sunderland and be successful with them.
"That's all I'm thinking about, so to be given the chance to prove myself is great, and I just want to play as much as possible now."