DANNY GRAHAM hopes his loan spell back at Middlesbrough can rekindle his career after he refused to close the door on his time at Sunderland.
The 28-year-old striker made a return to Boro on Friday night, a year after signing for Sunderland, and after a disappointing loan spell at Hull City where he only scored one goal.
It has been a difficult 12 months for the Gateshead-born frontman, but Middlesbrough, he feels, can bring the best out of him again.
“I think it is a chance to kick-start my career. 2013 wasn’t great for me,” said Graham, who was a second-half substitute in Boro’s 0-0 draw at Doncaster Rovers on Saturday. “All players go through bad spells, I’m not the type of person to get down about that, I always work hard and keep going.
“It’s the first challenge for me, back to the Boro where it all started for me, so I’m really excited and looking forward to 2014.”
Graham was a £5m signing by Martin O’Neill for the Black Cats from Swansea last year, but the striker failed to make an impact before being sent to Hull by Paolo Di Canio at the start of the season, a spell which brought one goal before Steve Bruce opted to invest heavily in Nikika Jelavic and Shane Long.
“I wouldn’t say it was the wrong move,” said Graham of his time on Wearside. “I went there fully committed to do well. It didn’t work out, I didn’t score from February to the end of the season when I was there, so it was tough.
“Di Canio came in and he said I could go out on loan. I wasn’t going to sit around and waste away, I got the chance to go to Hull, that didn’t quite work out, but it’s happened to me before, even in my younger days.
“I’m not going to get too down about it. I’m back here, I’m hopefully going to be playing a lot more football than I have been, and I can kick-start my career again.
“I’m taking each game as it comes. I’ve still got two years left at Sunderland after this season. It didn’t work out for me in the time I was there, but never say never in football, I could do well at Middlesbrough, and then you never know what might happen at Sunderland.”
Graham scored just two goals in his first spell at Middlesbrough between 2003 and 2007, but has gone on to be a proven goalscorer in spells at Carlisle United, Watford and Swansea City.
Graham feels the loan, which runs until the end of the season, can be of mutual benefit to himself and Middlesbrough.
He said: “We’re both looking for goals. Middlesbrough want to get up the table and make a push for the play-offs. It’s a mutual thing, and hopefully it can work for the both of us.
“As soon as I heard of the interest I wanted it to go through. There were a lot of other clubs interested but soon as I heard Middlesbrough were really interested there was no decision for me.
“Fair play to them sorting it out, Karen Andrews and Neil Bausor worked hard behind the scenes, were up until 2.30am to do it. There’s a lot of hard work and I’d like to thank them for that.”