Six things: Reliant Robbin, Sunderland youngster seizes chance as Checkatrade Trophy continues to baffle

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Jack Ross will have learnt plenty from Sunderland's goalless draw with Stoke City U21s - and so did we.

The Black Cats began their Checkatrade Trophy campaign with a stalemate against the Potters' youngsters - although Ross' side did claim a bonus point courtesy of a penalty shootout victory.

Robbin was reliant for Sunderland!

Robbin was reliant for Sunderland!

And there will be plenty for the Sunderland boss to take from the clash as he looks for further improvements ahead of the visit of Fleetwood Town on Saturday afternoon.

From loyal couples to crazy competition rules, here's six things we learnt from the Black Cats' draw with Stoke City:

Denver Hume has bags of potential

The full-back has been in and out of the Sunderland squad so far this season but, on this evidence, he has the potential to nail down a regular starting place.

Jerome Sinclair returned from injury in the Checkatrade Trophy clash

Jerome Sinclair returned from injury in the Checkatrade Trophy clash

While that won't happen overnight - and senior counterparts Bryan Oviedo and Reece James will be keen to make the left-back spot their own - Hume performance against Stoke suggested that he oozes potential.

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His strong and uncompromising defensive performance was backed-up with an attacking swagger which saw the 22-year-old contribute plenty in the final third.

He came close to opening the scoring and, while he couldn't find his way past the Stoke stopper, he could be about to force his way into Jack Ross' plans.

Charlie Wyke and Sunderland could be a match made in heaven

Charlie Wyke and Sunderland could be a perfect match

Charlie Wyke and Sunderland could be a perfect match

Wyke is still far from his best, make no mistake about that, but the early indications are that he could be a perfect fit for this Sunderland side.

In a fairly young attacking line, Wyke's strength and hold-up play are just what the Black Cats have been missing during the early games of the season.

Playing with his back to goal for large parts against the Potters, the striker's touch and control allowed the ball to stick in the final third - while he was able to ensure those around him were brought into play.

His style of play should perfectly suit that of Sunderland and League One, meaning that this could prove to be a match made in heaven.

Robbin isn't looking rusty

Jon McLaughlin's status at Sunderland's number one is unlikely to change, but it was refreshing to see a positive performance from Robbin Ruiter.

The Dutchman was making his first appearance of the season but showed no signs of any rust in a good performance.

His penalty saves made the headlines, but his distribution, command of his area and shot-stopping were exceptional during the regulation time.

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Ruiter has obviously managed to keep himself sharp thus far, and now he need to ensure that is maintained should he need to be called upon later in the campaign.

The Checkatrade Trophy continues to baffle and bemuse

Whether you love it or hate it, you can't deny that the Checkatrade Trophy provides plenty of entertainment.

Albeit, very little of that entertainment seems to happen on the pitch - as evidenced in what was a fairly drab affair at the Stadium of Light.

The tournament's rules however, continue to prove baffling - with the prolongation of Max Power's ban the perfect example.

It was decision which bemused Ross and several other managers as the competition itself continues to divide opinion.

It's all about atmosphere at the Stadium of Light

A crowd of 7,644 were inside the Stadium of Light for this clash but, despite the reduction in numbers, the Sunderland fans still tried to create some noise.

The Black Cats' best spells in the game were when they were being vociferously backed by their home support - and that's no coincidence.

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Ross has spoken before of the important of home support and the atmosphere generated by Sunderland fans continues to help lift the side.

More of the same on Saturday, please.

Stoke City have some extremely loyal supporters

A quick headcount suggested that there were 12 Stoke City fans in attendance at the Stadium of Light.

They included one couple who were in the ground from as soon as the turnstiles opened and tried to stir up a racket among the travelling support as their team was announced.

You can't fault their commitment to the cause!