Sunderland defender Paul McShane is staying positive despite enduring the 'hardest period' of his career this season.
McShane joined the Black Cats in a £2.5million deal from West Bromwich Albion last summer and started the campaign in Roy Keane's side.
However, he featured only once in the closing four months of the season and has seen his future at the Stadium of Light come into question.
The Republic of Ireland international feels he is a stronger player for the experience and aims to state his case to Keane when the squad return for pre-season training.
"It is probably the hardest period I have gone through in my career so far," said McShane.
Steep learning curve
"It has been a steep learning curve over the last three months or so to see how the game works. I have also had the chance to just sit back and look at our team and look at other teams play.
"I have become stronger from it. It's not a nice thing to do, but that's the way it was.
"It started very well and I was really enjoying it. Then I found myself out of the team in January and I didn't really get back into it.
"That's football for you, it happens. I did everything to get myself back in, but it didn't happen.
"But chin up, we go again next season."