It came as a shock to most supporters to see Charles N'Zogbia pictured training with Sunderland on the first day of pre-season.
N’Zogbia made just two appearances for relegated Aston Villa last season as he wound down the final months of his estimated £50,000-a-week wages at Villa Park.
He wouldn't have been top of many supporter's summer transfer wishlists.
But with Sunderland yet to make a summer signing and mounting injury concerns, the former Newcastle United midfielder could yet land a deal at the Stadium of Light.
His performances this pre-season have been mixed, with new manager David Moyes keen to take a closer look at him in the game against Montpellier HSC at Stade Jaques Forestier.
N'Zogbia was named on the bench for the final friendly of the tour of France in Aix-les-Bains, around 45 minutes south of Geneva.
Moyes hasn't started N'Zogbia in any of the three games this week and he would have likely come on as a half-time sub.
But he was thrust into the action after just 23 minutes as a result of the injury to Jan Kirchhoff.
The German midfielder walked straight off the pitch, clearly hugely disappointed after picking up an injury having only just returned from a calf problem.
N'Zogbia replaced Kirchhoff in central midfield and kept things simple in the first half without catching the eye.
The second half performance, though, wasn't that of someone busting a gut to win a contract.
Playing alongside Lee Cattermole, he didn't see much of the ball for the opening half hour of the second half. On the fringes of the action, he offered little threat to Montpellier.
As the game wore on he saw more of the ball and played in teenager Joel Asoro with 15 minutes left but the teenager blasted his cross/shot wide.
He ended the game wide right but never really seemed to get out of second gear all night.
On the evidence of this game, N'Zogbia probably hadn't done enough to earn a contract at the club.
But remember he has been at the club for a month now and Moyes will take into consideration what he has seen on the training pitches at Evian-les-Bains this week and in the friendly games with FC Stade Nyonnais and Dijon FOC.
He didn't star in either of those games but did catch the eye in the win over Rotherham United, when he set up one goal and then scored the winner.
Against Hartlepool United he was handed the captain's armband but was poor in that game.
Ordinarily, N'Zogbia would probably struggle to earn a deal but given the squad's depleted numbers there is every chance Moyes will offer him a short-term deal.
The club is low on numbers, threadbare and the mounting injury concerns aren't helping.
Central midfield isn't a transfer priority, with right-back, centre-back and up front the main areas in need of strengthening.
But Moyes also needs bodies and it wouldn't do any harm offering N'Zogbia a short-term deal, possibly a six-month contract to help boost numbers.
Sunderland attempted to sign N’Zogbia prior to his move to Villa, but then Black Cats boss Steve Bruce was unable to strike a deal in the summer of 2011.
Could he finally arrive five years on?
Watch this space.