Sunderland will make a decision on whether to offer a contract to Emmanuel Eboue before the end of the week after the ex-Arsenal defender featured in the Under-21s’ 1-0 defeat to Leicester City.
Trialist Eboue completed the full 90 minutes at Eppleton CW after being given permission to feature, with Sam Allardyce making a personal check on the 32-year-old, who has spent the past three weeks training at Sunderland.
Eboue improved as the game wore on after he was notably rusty in the opening 45 minutes - unsurprisingly, given he has been unattached since being released by Galatasary last summer.
But there were flashes of the pedigree which saw Eboue make more than 200 appearances for Arsenal in the second half, and Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce has been impressed by the defender’s buoyant character around the Academy of Light.
Other than Eboue, there were few splashes of intrigue to catch Allardyce’s eye in a poor quality game which saw a late penalty from Leicester provide a setback towards Sunderland’s title challenge in the U21 Premier League.
Rees Greenwood was by far Sunderland’s most threatening player, but yet again, the winger was let down by the quality of his final cross or finish.
However, Greenwood did almost spark an early breakthrough when he produced an excellent mazy run to reach the left-hand by-line and pulled it back low into the penalty area.
George Honeyman saw a shot blocked, before Carl Lawson’s follow-up effort across goal drifted just wide.
At the other end, James Talbot tipped a long-range Joe Dodoo shot over the bar, while Jacob Blyth was a whisker away with a glancing header from a left wing cross.
But there were few clear-cut chances before the interval - Greenwood was by some distance Sunderland’s most threatening player, yet the winger was unable to fashion a cross or shot to test Leicester keeper Daniel Iverson.
Eboue changed boots at half-time and had a sight of goal within four minutes of the restart, but produced a horrible mis-kick from 12 yards out to Lawson’s pull-back.
But the Ivory Coast international began to find his feet as the game wore on and just after the hour mark he produced an eye-catching charge forwards, before feeding the ball to Lawson out wide.
Lawson’s cross found it’s way all the way through to Greenwood at the far side, who sent a half-volley across the face, but inches wide of the far post.
Greenwood repeated that trick with a carbon copy effort in the 66th minute, this time from George Honeyman’s cross.
But with 15 minutes to go, Leicester were awarded a penalty after Foxes substitute Harvey Barnes - introduced only seconds earlier - was pushed by Tommy Robson.
Blyth converted, sending Talbot the wrong way and planting it into the left-hand corner.
Sunderland: Talbot, Eboue, T Robson, Agnew, Brady, Beadling, Lawson, E Robson, Mandron (Nelson 60), Honeyman, Greenwood. Subs: McEvoy, Stryjek, Blinco, J Robson.
Leicester: Iverson, Oseni (Barmby 66), Akiotu, Watson, Moore, Johnson, Muskwe (Barnes 74), Miles, Blyth, Cain, Dodoo. Subs: Maddison, Anderson, Barnes, Rowe.