Sunderland boss David Moyes’ best bit of summer business was keeping centre-half Lamine Kone, who only signed for the Black Cats in January, out of the clutches of Chelsea and Everton, with a couple of reasons for the Ivorian to stay winging their way towards the first team.
Jason Denayer has bags of experience for a man of his mere 21 years, with Scottish Premiership, Scottish League Cup and Turkish Cup honours, plus Champions League minutes away to Benfica and Real Madrid, picked up during loan spells with Celtic and Galatasaray.
The Manchester City defender can’t take too much blame for Wales making him look silly at Euro 2016, with Denayer chucked into Belgium’s side for his first appearance of the tournament by desperate then-boss Marc Wilmots ahead of the 3-1 quarter final defeat.
After making a season-long loan switch to the Stadium of Light, Denayer will compete with a swelled centre-half cast, which now includes Papy Djilobodji and Paddy McNair as well as captain John O’Shea, to partner Kone.
Of even more importance to the former Lorient stopper and Moyes, Jan Kirchhoff could return to face Everton next time out having missed the start of the campaign with a hamstring problem.
Most football watchers will remember the former Bayern Munich man’s horrendous January debut from the bench in a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham, when Kirchhoff had a hand in Sunderland conceding two goals despite being on the pitch for little more than half an hour.
That the 25-year-old was only just pipped for the fans’ player of the year award by striker Jermain Defoe says everything about how crucial Kirchhoff was to his new side’s survival push following the White Hart Lane debacle.
With Kone at centre-half and Kirchhoff in midfield, Sunderland lost just three of their last 16 Premier League fixtures under Sam Allardyce and shipped one goal or less in nine of the pair’s 14 starts together.
Having bagged their first point of the campaign at Southampton last time out, Sunderland are 12/5 to beat the Toffees at home just five months after seeing them off 3-0 in the same fixture last season.