Fabio Borini: Much more to come from Sunderland’s shattered new talisman

Sunderland's Fabio Borini battles for the ball
Sunderland's Fabio Borini battles for the ball
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Well, after 13-long months of ‘Will he? Won’t he?

Fabio Borini was finally back in a Sunderland shirt at the Stadium of Light.

It was the best they had played this campaign and Borini was playing his part.

In from the start against Tottenham Hotspur to make his ‘second debut’ for the Black Cats.

Would he live up to the pre-match hype?

A standing ovation before the game was bookended by a standing ovation when he made his way off, shattered, in the 73rd minute.

That told its own story.

Borini may not have had any chances himself but he worked his socks off in an unfamiliar role on the left wing first half and right wing second.

The 24-year-old had been expected to lead the line, but head coach Dick Advocaat opted for Jermain Defoe through the middle.

That meant Borini on the left flank and Jeremain Lens bombing on down the right-flank.

With Ola Toivonen pulling the strings in the Number 10 role, Sunderland were at their attacking best in the opening 45 minutes.

It was the best they had played this campaign and Borini was playing his part.

Borini - who enjoyed a successful loan spell during the 2013-14 season - didn’t have a sight on goal himself.

But he was heavily involved in creating chances for others, one first half pass to Defoe, in particular, deserved better.

Borini was enjoying a busy - and bruising afternoon - with Ryan Mason leaving an imprint on the ankles of the ex-Liverpool striker with one nasty second-half challenge.

Borini, who picked up a debut yellow card, isn’t afraid of getting involved and doesn’t shy away from a challenge.

Two characteristics that will serve him well at Sunderland, with the club facing another battle against relegation this term.

Fans will be hoping he can recapture his goalscoring exploits of the last time he was at the club too.

Borini became a firm favourite given the 10 goals he netted - including against Newcastle United, Chelsea and at Wembley during the Capital One Cup final.

And the Sunderland fan base remain firm favourites of the Italian frontman.

But they know there is much more to come, with the striker looking well short of full-match fitness.

Hardly a surprise given his lack of first team action at Liverpool, but a concern none the less.

Sunderland will need him to get up to full speed as soon as possible.

Dwight Yorke, speaking on Sky Sports, admitted he wasn’t convinced Borini would be the answer to Sunderland’s goalscoring problems.

If he is played out wide then Yorke might be on to something.

But Advocaat, at least, looks to have struck upon his best team, with the balance of the side far better than in previous matches.

And with DeAndre Yedlin set to come in against Bournemouth, Advocaat will be hoping his side can finally pick up their first three points of the season.