Sunderland youngster Andrew Nelson made his return from injury in a 4-1 win over Peteborough United in the Premier League Cup.
The 21-year-old has hoped to push for a place in Jack Ross's squad this season after impressing on loan at Falkirk during the last campaign.
He began the pre-season campaign in the senior set up, with Falkirk and a number of other clubs interested in another loan.
A foot injury curtailed his progress, however, and he has not been able to feature since.
But he took a significant step on Monday night by playing 20 minutes against a strong opposition side.
Peterborough's U23 XI featured a number of senior players who have played in League One this season, including winger Siriki Dembele, striker Jason Cummings and midfielder Mark O'Hara.
Former Newcastle United defender Sebastien Bassong, who signed on a free transfer earlier this season, also played.
All of the youngsters who impressed in Sunderland's Checkatrade Trophy win over Morecambe featured in the win, with Jack Bainbridge and Lee Connelly getting on the scoresheet.
Williams Kokolo scored a brace in a win that saw Elliott Dickman's side move top of their group.
They are next in action at Hetton next Monday night.
They face Middlesbrough and the game is set to feature Duncan Watmore as he nears a first team return.