Sunderland defender Denver Hume hopes he can return to the first team this season after playing 90 minutes for the under-23 side on Sunday afternoon.
Hume, 20, has been out since September with a long-term knee injury but believes he’s ready to kick on after a frustrating spell on the sidelines.
“It's been a while but I'm obviously pleased to get back out there, pleased to get some minutes, and hopefully I can push on now,” said Hume after the young Black Cats beat Reading 1-0 at the Stadium of Light.
“It was just a case of seeing how long I could last. I've been back in training for a couple of weeks now.
“They just said to see how I felt after 60 or 70 minutes on Sunday and it was all good, so I was pleased to play the full 90.
“I’m not sure of the plan now. Ideally I would maybe play one more game with the under-23s just to get some more minutes and make sure I still feel good, but I'll wait and see what happens.”
Hume was becoming a regular starter under Jack Ross before injury struck, and could now find it difficult to win his place back.
Reece James has occupied the left-back berth for the Black Cats in recent months, while Bryan Oviedo is also an option.
Even so, Hume is ready for the challenge.
“The injury came at the wrong time. I was doing quite well but sometimes things like that happen in football and you just have to recover from it and come back stronger,” Hume added.
“I did my MCL and I had a little tear in my meniscus, that was what was giving me the trouble, but once I got that sorted out, it has been quite good since then.
“ All injuries are frustrating but you just have to try and bounce back from them and recover as quickly as possible.
“The team has been doing really well. It's good to see the lads doing well and we are pushing up the league, so hopefully I can get back in the team and play a part as well.”
Under-23s boss Elliott Dickman was also pleased with Hume, who had a positive impression on his team-mates.
“Denver was good. He tired as the game went on but generally I thought he was smashing,” said Dickman.
“You can see that he has been around the senior players for a while and has played senior football, he's got a cool head and he was composed.
“It was fantastic to see him back and hopefully he'll kick on.”