Jan Kirchhoff was disappointed to mark his return to action with defeat, but revelled in being back in competitive action.
Kirchoff played 64 minutes in the U23's 3-1 defeat to Manchester United, and came close to marking it with a goal shortly before his substitution.
The German is targeting a return to the Premier League against Burnley and belives the fitness gained from Monday night's run out will be crucial.
He said: "For me it was a good training session to be out there and have some game practice and get some minutes under my belt – that’s what I need now,
“It’s mainly about fitness, but it is always different to be on the pitch playing a game and trying to win a football match, rather than just training.
“The main thing for us was to win this game and we didn’t do that, so we are quite disappointed.
“For me though it is a positive to have got these minutes and try to build my fitness.
“We have a weekend off because Middlesbrough are playing in the cup, so it is a chance to have a good week training and then start on Monday and keep going throughout the week to work on my fitness.”
It has been a frustrating campaign for Kirchhoff as he has battled numerous injury problems, and he hopes he can now emulate his run of form last season, his performances in defensive midfield a key part of Sunderland's climb to safety.
He said: "It has been very frustrating. It is not nice to be out and unable to help the team in any way.
“This whole season has been frustrating, not only for me personally but for us as a team.
“We will try our best to stick together and fight our way back out of this situation.
“That’s what I am doing now as well – trying to help the team get some points to stay in the league this season.”