DANNY Collins has set his sights on making his Premiership debut against European Champions Liverpool.
Sunderland's former Chester City defender has admitted defeat in his bid to be fit for the Wearsiders' opener with Charlton tomorrow.
The Wales international, who left Chester to join the Black Cats last October in a £140,000 deal, is recovering from an Achilles injury which has dogged him for most of the summer.
But Collins, who celebrated his 25th birthday last week, is hopeful he'll be back for the new-boys' trip to Anfield on August 20.
He said: 'I'm having treatment on it so I'll miss the first game of the season.
'But I'm going to give it all I can to be back for Liverpool, which is a massive game.
'I felt it go again in our friendly with Hull, but I was glad it was not a tear because that might have kept me out for three or four months.
'There's a little fluid on the ankle and it's a case of keep on working and I'll know when I'm ready.'
Although Collins was relieved the injury wasn't more serious, he's still gutted at missing the Premiership curtain raiser - especially in the light of Sunderland's defensive problems.
He said: 'I'm disappointed because there are lads at the back who are injured too.
'George McCartney is out and Julio Arca picked up a knock so there was a chance of me slotting in at left-back.
'But I don't want to make it worse so I've just got to bide my time.
'I've done all the running that comes with pre-season so I'm in good condition. I've just got to get the ball back under my feet now.'
Collins, who made 14 appearances in Sunderland's Championship-winning campaign, is keen to test himself at the top level.
Having gone from playing semi-professionally with Cymru Alliance club Buckley Town to the Premiership and Wales within the space of four years, he admits it's been a rapid rise.
But he says his time in the national squad will benefit him.
He said: 'It'll be a big test for me but I've had the experience of coming up against the likes of Craig Bellamy and Ryan Giggs with Wales.
'So I'm looking forward to being given the chance to prove what I can do.'