Sunderland captain Dean Whitehead has hit out at reports suggesting he wanted to leave the club following a bust-up with manager Roy Keane.
Whitehead was linked with a move to Premier League new-boys Stoke City, but the 26-year-old midfielder insists the reports were wildly inaccurate.
The former Oxford United midfielder missed three months of the last campaign with a knee ligament injury, but returned in late November and played in all 25 remaining league games for the Black Cats.
"It's exciting times for the club and I want to be a part of it," he told the club's official website.
"I've been here four years now, I've seen a few ups and downs, but securing top-flight status was a huge thing for us last season and I can't wait to tackle it again this year.
"The gaffer is planning to bring in some new players and that will only benefit the club and me as a player.
"It will create more competition for places and will improve the overall quality of the squad when we sometimes lacked it last season, so it should enable the club to move on to the next level.
"I certainly want to be a part of that and I'm looking forward to the challenge of staying in the team."