Recently, when rumours began to circulate about the future of Dennis Cirkin, I, like many other Sunderland fans, greeted them with scepticism.
A potential return to Tottenham Hotspur would send a huge message about his current form, and the fact that his confidence and influence have grown massively over the past year.
Indeed, those whispers were swirling even as he was recovering from the hamstring injury sustained during the defeat to Middlesborough at the Riverside, but after his impressive performance against Wigan on Saturday, interest in the youngster has allegedly increased.
Thomas Frank’s Brentford, as well as Antonio Conte’s Spurs, are rumoured to have thrown their hats into the ring, but can you really blame them?
He continues to grow in stature on Wearside, returning to action during the U23’s defeat to Leeds United on Monday night, before producing a sensational performance for the first team on Saturday afternoon.
It leaves Tony Mowbray with selection issues for Tuesday night’s visit to Blackburn Rovers, with the ever-reliable Corry Evans set to return to the side after serving a one-game suspension, but for now, it’s Cirkin’s time to shine.
Even after his five-week absence, the former Tottenham youngster looks like he’s never been away.
In both defence and attack, he was pivotal to our first victory in five matches, as we got our Championship season heading in the right direction after a couple of disappointing results, both on the road and at home.
This was as much Cirkin’s afternoon as it was the team’s, as we looked to resolve our attacking issues.
Contributing to both goals on your first start for over a month is certainly some way to mark your return, and by all accounts, it was two extremely accomplished pieces of play that turned the game in our favour.
First, a brilliant overlapping run was as important as the finish by Elliot Embleton, before he produced a back post header that even Niall Quinn would have been impressed with, on the day when the Sunderland faithful celebrated his legacy on Wearside.
If Cirkin continues on the same trajectory, he could earn himself a major reputation on Wearside, but in assessing his contribution against the Latics, it was notable that he scored his first professional goal for the club during his fiftieth appearance.
The change of gameplan in the second half, moving to a back four and allowing Cirkin to push higher up the pitch, gave us the attacking outlet that we had been missing during recent weeks.
The ball for our opening goal captured this beautifully.
Alex Pritchard seemed to be short of room, but a dangerous run down the outside opened up an avenue past Tendayi Darikwa and allowed Embleton to sidefoot the ball past Ben Amos in the Wigan goal.
Although Cirkin is not an out-and-out attacker, Mowbray might have found an answer to a big question, and as much we rely on Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms, if he continues in this manner, he could become a real threat going forward.
He seems to have written his name straight back onto the teamsheet, and after this display, he could certainly be a player that many Premier League clubs are going to be monitoring.
This was meant to be Charlie Wyke, Nathan Broadhead, Max Power and James McClean’s day at the Stadium of Light, but instead, it belonged to Cirkin.