Outings for Kirchhoff, Gooch, Love and Honeyman
Jan Kirchhoff, Lynden Gooch, Donald Love and George Honeyman were the Sunderland first team midfielders on display last night as the Under-23s faced Manchester United.
Elliot Dickman's squad may have lost by three-goals-to-one at Eppleton CW, but the game was notable for the return of Kirchhoff in particular.
The big German coasted through the game getting an hour-plus under his belt in this latest return to fitness. Kirchhoff's completion of a competitive sixty-four minutes in a red-and-white shirt is a boost for a Sunderland squad who are now heavy favourites for the drop sitting as they are at the foot of the Premier League table, six points adrift of safety.
With the fitness of January signing Darron Gibson in doubt after the former Everton man was withdrawn with a knee injury against Manchester City, and a team in need of fresh ideas in the middle of the park, the reemergence of Kirchhoff plus Gooch and Honeyman offers a selection boost for David Moyes as he now plots a way to beat Burnley in just under two weeks' time.
El Hadji Ba signs for Norwegian side
The summer of 2013 has gone down in Wearside folklore. Fourteen players arrived under the double-headed parody that was Paulo Di Canio and Roberto De Fanti.
Signing number seven that close season was a promising youngster signed from French club Le Havre. El Hadji Ba joined Sunderland in July '13 and immediately linked up with his teammates at their training camp in Italy.
Two years later, having managed one cup appearance and nineteen minutes in the Premier League, and he was gone. Ba moved to Charlton in June 2015 and soon became as instantly forgettable in South London as he had been on Wearside.
Making 25 appearances during the Addick's relegation campaign into League 1, El Hadji Ba became an outsider at the Valley one the man who signed him, Israeli coach Guy Luzon, was sacked. He was released in February and has been hunting for a new club since.
And now he's found one. Ba has signed for Norwegian outfit Stabæk Fotball ahead of the Eliteserien season's opener in first week of April.
Finishing third from bottom last season, Stabæk only escaped relegation from Norway's top tier by virtue of a play-off victory over FK Bodø/Glimt.
And that's about all we know of them. Except that former Blackburn and Leicester midfielder, Billy McKinlay, managed the club for a while. McKinlay was the man who managed Watford for all of eight days before being sacked in 2014, and he was rumoured to be about to link up with David Moyes' last summer to join his backroom staff. Nothing became of that of course.
As for Ba, if all goes to plan he will line up against Sunderland's Michael Ledger in May when Stabæk face Viking Stavanger. And as for Ledger, he made his debut for Viking on Friday night in a friendly which saw his loan club beaten 4-1.
Football - it's a small world.
Serbian wonderkid scouted by Sunderland
According to various outlets, including the Sunderland Echo and the Newcastle Chronicle, David Moyes sent scouts to check out Serbian hot prospect Luka Adzic at the weekend.
And they weren't alone. In fact, talent spotters from a host of Europe's top clubs were credited with an attendance at the Rajko Mitic Stadium to check out the prospects on offer as Red Star Belgrade took on fierce city rivals Partizan.
Leicester, Arsenal and Manchester City also had representatives at the game to put the watch on the 18-year-old attacking midfielder.
So what was the verdict? Is the wonderkid coming to England? Erm, no idea - because Adzic didn't even get a run out on Saturday as he watched the game from the bench as an unused substitute.
Was this Partizan Belgrade striker the actual target?
In that case, was that Black Cats scout not watching someone else? Well, quite possibly because according to some gossip in Italy, Sunderland are instead supposedly monitoring Partizan Belgrade striker Uroš Đurđević.
The Serbian rose through the ranks at Belgrade club FK Rad before moving to Dutch side Vitesse. His spell in the Netherlands didn't work out and Đurđević only managed one goal in twenty-four appearances before club and player terminated his contract by mutual consent.
From there the forward, now aged 23, spent a year at Palermo before heading for home and joining Partizan Belgrade. And once back in Serbia he has been on fire, scoring eleven goals in sixteen appearances.
Typically a centre-forward, Đurđević can also operate on either flank. The player has also been linked with Sunderland by reports elsewhere including this one from Holland. He could be just the ticket in the Championship.