defender Danny Collins has been rewarded for his form with a new two-and-a-half-year contract.
The 28-year-old Welshman has started 25 of the club's 28 games so far this season at either left-back or centre-half and has proved himself a key member of the team under both Roy Keane and his successor, Ricky Sbragia.
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Collins, who will now remain at the Stadium of Light until the end of the 2010-11 season, said: 'I'm happy here and it's good to sign for another few seasons. I think the club is going places.'
Manager Ricky Sbragia said: 'It's great to tie Danny down to a longer deal and we're delighted he wants to be a part of our long-term plans here.
'Danny has been one of the most consistent players at the club in recent seasons, showing versatility by playing in both left-back and central defensive positions, and while playing very well he also gives us valuable options at the back, so this is great news for the club.'
The Wales international joined the Black Cats for a bargain £140,000 from Chester in October 2004 and has since made 143 appearances.
He becomes the second player to commit his future to the club this week following striker Kenwyne Jones' decision to sign a new four and a half-year deal.