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QUICK KICKS: Denver Hume offers fierce competition for Don Love’s place in the Sunderland team!

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To call last night’s stalemate against Stoke City’s kids mundane would be nothing short of an understatement, but we still managed to wean some talking points out of it - with the terrific performance from Denver Hume squarely in the limelight of those!

Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland - Premier League 2 Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Denver Hume offers fierce competition for Don Love’s place in the team

I dare say academy graduate Hume was our best player on the pitch last night; looking both calm and composed on the ball while also being energetic and threatening going forward - throw in some incisive crosses and a decent left peg into that plethora of attributes and you have yourself a very competent full-back.

If we have such a capable player at our disposal then it makes you wonder why we aren’t playing him ahead of Don Love, especially in light of the aforementioned’s underwhelming performances these past few weeks.

Adam Matthews will most likely be the peoples’ and Jack Ross’s first choice in that position regardless, but Hume has plenty of time between now and then to make a case for his inclusion in the first team and consolidation of his place - and his first step toward doing so would be to prove he can offer us more than Love, which he most likely can - especially going forward.

Gillingham v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Tom Flanagan looks solid

Considering how much talk has been generated from the mercurial, shaky performances from Ozturk and the consistently formidable ones of Baldwin, you’d be forgiven for forgetting we even signed Tom Flanagan on a free from Burton Albion in the earlier weeks of the summer window.

Hitherto injured, Flanagan has had to watch from the sidelines as his other three centre-back colleagues were granted a generous handful of games with which to prove themselves to the Sunderland faithful. Last night Tom finally got his chance in what was admittedly a relatively low-profile encounter against a Stoke U21 side, but it was a competitive fixture nonetheless, and the lad looked to be a decent all-round defender.

Obviously we’ll only know for certain how valuable a player he is once we see him in an actual league match, but this Checkatrade Trophy tie yielded some seemingly promising signs of what to expect.

Sunderland AFC

A game of football is either significant or it isn’t - there is no middle ground

There’s no grey area in a Sunderland game’s ability to captivate us. There isn’t a spectrum of interest on which different games are placed in different places. No, a game of football is either meaningful to us or it isn’t, and there’s nothing in between.

When you watch the Lads play out a friendly against a team from the Scottish second tier, it fails to hold any real, genuine significance and, equally, when you watch a league match, you’re watching a game that is highly substantive and consequential. But if you thought logic would dictate that a Checkatrade Trophy enocunter against a Championship youth team would fall somewhere between ‘meaningless’ and ‘meaningful’, then I’m afraid you’re sadly mistaken.

We eventually realise that it just has to be in one category or the other. I think you now know which one it inevitably falls into.

Luton Town v Oxford United - EFL Checkatrade Trophy Semi Final Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images