Jack Ross has urged Spurs loanee Kazaiah Sterling to seize any opportunity that comes his way in the coming games.
Sterling sealed a move to Sunderland on deadline day, just hours before the club struck to deal to sign Will Grigg.
He made his debut just days later but has subsequently struggled for game time, making just that one appearance.
He has travelled with the squad for the last two away games, and the picture has changed considerably after the Black Cats were hit with a number of selection issues.
Duncan Watmore is waiting on the results of an ankle scan, George Honeyman is about to serve a three-game suspension and Charlie Wyke is a slight doubt for the trip to Barnsley due to illness. That could open the door for Sterling and Ross has urged him, as well as the other players who will get their chance, to take it.
“It may open up an opportunity for him,” Ross said.
“It’s simply been the players we’ve had and the balance we’ve needed on the bench.
“The situation from Saturday opens up opportunities for a number of players, either to start games or be involved in the squad.
“It’s a bit different to when you make changes in the Checkatrade [against Bristol Rovers] because they were always planned.
“These changes will obviously be enforced ones and the players know I’m quite fair that way, if they’re playing well and they’re in possession of the jersey then they’ll stay in the team.
“There’s a huge incentive over these games to remain in the team and hopefully we’ll see that from the players who do get their opportunity.
“Whether that’s starting or coming off the bench.”
Speaking recently of Sterling’s challenge, Ross urged him to knuckle down and be patient.
The Black Cats boss says the 20-year-old has done just that.
“He’s been good,” he said.
“He’s a nice young man, he’s continued to do things properly.
“The reality for me is that I can’t treat him any differently to if he was my player here.
“It’s still different for him, training with the first team every day.
“I know he had experience training with the first team at Spurs, he’s with us every single day and it’s about maintaining those standards every day.
“He’s been good, he’s responded well to it and then it’ll be up to him when the opportunity opens up for him how he takes.”