Bryan Oviedo faces a fight to reclaim his Sunderland place with Denver Hume winning praise from Jack Ross.
Hume starred in the 4-1 win over Rochdale having been recalled to the starting XI in place of the more experienced Oviedo.
And the 22-year-old more than justified Ross’ selection call, with Oviedo now facing a genuine fight to be selected.
Academy product Hume played left wing-back in Ross’ 3-5-2 system and produced his first assist in the comfortable win.
In total, Hume has started four games this season, including the 2-0 League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, the Checkatrade Trophy game against Stoke City U21s and the League One clash against Fleetwood Town.
He was man of the match against Stoke and Fleetwood but was dropped for the defeat at Burton Albion, Oviedo recalled after international duty.
Ross - who had made it clear he was prepared to make big selection calls - then handed Hume a recall for the Rochdale win.
And the Scot says it is now up to Hume to keep making the most of the opportunities he gets.
Ross said: “Every decision you make regarding team selection, you don’t do it on a whim. There’s usually some sort of consideration and corroboration behind it.
“Denver was very unfortunate not to play last week [at Burton] and keep his place in the team.
“When we decided to play this system, we then had to look and decide what we wanted from players in certain areas, and what we also needed as a team.
“We talked about physicality and aggression. I don’t think Bryan played poorly [against Burton], I just thought this was a game that would be better suited to Denver.
“Every time Denver has played this season, he’s been good. I don’t think anybody can argue with that.
“It’s just up to him to keep taking the opportunities, and I thought he did that against Rochdale.”
Oviedo is one of the highest paid players and had expected to leave this summer but no buyer was forthcoming.
Instead of taking the Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji approach, Oviedo instead knuckled down and has worked hard for the cause, winning praise from Ross for his attitude, commitment and professionalism.
Ross admitted the Costa Rican, who played in the World Cup in Russia, was disappointed to be left out against Rochdale but praised his reaction.
Oviedo came on as a late sub in the 86th minute for Lynden Gooch.
Ross added: “Bryan’s reaction was disappointment, but in terms of professionalism, he was fine, and I think you saw that when he came on to the pitch.
“I stress it to all the team, it’s a group that brings you success, it’s never just ten or 11 players.
“We’re going to need that group throughout the course of the season, and fortunately for me, every one of them has responded in the correct way so far.”