Jan Kirchhoff has undergone somewhat of a speedy metamorphosis, going from the disaster that was his debut away at Spurs to putting in the ‘best display by any midfielder in the Premier League this season' against Manchester City, all in the space of two games.
Signing players from top European sides doesn't necessarily provide any guarantees of course, especially for those that are coming from the fringes of a big squad. However, if any certainties can be established from Sam Allardyce's January capture, it's the fact that Kirchhoff has shown mental toughness to come back from such a bad first impression to immediately being considered a first team player.
It takes a certain type of individual to be even on the radar of a side such as Bayern Munich. The Bundesliga giants will have no doubt carried out their own unique due diligence in 2013 in advance of Kirchhoff signing. That made Big Sam's job that little bit easier and surely gave Sunderland's back room staff the confidence that Kirchhoff would still come good.
In short, it's testament to the player's resilience that his substitute appearance against Spurs didn't significantly impact on his displays since, albeit in a midfield role. In hindsight, though, that was the one thing we should have always known.
It was really disappointing to see Jan pull up due to a hamstring injury against Manchester United on Saturday, such has been his influence on the team since that Spurs game. The good news, of course, is that there is now a few weeks recovery time before the next match against West Ham United.
The warm weather training has come just at the right moment. Fresh on the heels of a well deserved victory, the squad can apply some salve on what has been an eventful and emotional first half of the season, ready for the final throws of the campaign.
Should Kirchhoff get another crack at playing at centre back? Lamine Koné has settled into the role as though he's played in the Premier League his entire career and John O'Shea has also looked consistently solid recently, despite the number of goals we have conceded this season.
It doesn't seem like the right time to change things, does it? Given the recent results and performances, you do wonder whether the trip to Dubai will allow Big Sam an opportunity to see what Kirchhoff and Koné look like as the main central defence pairing.
Kirchhoff's ability to play in a number of roles serves him well but I'd personally like to see him given another opportunity in the heart of defence once he has become accustomed to the pace and the rigours of the Premier League.
At twenty-five Kirchhoff still has youth on his side and Koné is only twenty-seven. There is no reason why those two couldn't, in theory at least, be Sunderland's centre back partnership for the next five or six seasons.
Ideally, perhaps it would be good to see Kirchhoff get used to the Premier League in that holding midfield role then maneuver back to a central defence position once Allardyce has decided it's time for O'Shea to take a back seat.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.