OPPORTUNITY knocked for Sunderland’s fringe players as Steve Bruce’s men limped to a sixth home defeat out of seven.
The closing stages of Saturday’s grim loss to Wolves were more like a scene from Eppleton CW than the Stadium of Light, as reserve regulars Ryan Noble, Craig Lynch and Louis Laing were prematurely forced into first-team action.
But the absence of an entire starting XI also presented what could potentially be a final chance for Cristian Riveros to prove he has a future on Wearside.
Riveros was possibly a touch less anonymous than usual, but there was little to alter the prevalent view that the 28-year-old will be on his way back to South America this summer.
It’s perhaps harsh to level criticism at Riveros, considering he hadn’t started in the Premier League since Boxing Day and has only once featured in back-to-back games for Sunderland.
But nine months down the line, the World Cup quarter-finalist is yet to show a spark of trickery, a turn of pace or a defence-splitting pass to suggest he will adapt to the English top flight.
Riveros was his usual self against Wolves – neat and tidy yet unspectacular.
READ the full verdict in Monday’s Echo