Sunderland are keeping themselves in shape during the two-week international break by facing a behind-closed-doors friendly against Middlesbrough today.
The Black Cats are in the midst of a lean spell of fixtures which has seen them compete in just one Premier League outing in the space of four weeks.
And in order to keep some of his fringe players sharp, boss Sam Allardyce has organised a friendly with Championship neighbours Boro today.
Sunderland also have to consider whether to allow any players to leave the club on loan before today's emergency loan deadline.
Allardyce has ruled out any more senior players departing before the 5pm deadline after right-back Adam Matthews was allowed to join Bristol City earlier this month.
But youngsters such as Tommy Robson, Tom Beadling and Ethan Robson have all attracted attention from clubs down the football pyramid.
Meanwhile, Sunderland defender Patrick van Aanholt has been discussing his recall to the Holland squad for friendlies against Germany and France.
Van Aanholt hasn't featured for his country since 2014, yet has impressed under Sam Allardyce's tutelage during the second half of the season.
"I hope to show what the Premier League does for a footballer. I’ve become stronger, that’s obvious," said van Aanholt.
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