The big question Callum Doyle answered on his Sunderland debut and how Corry Evans performed
To say the questions were answered emphatically was perhaps an understatement.
Even with barely ten minuted on the clock, any concerns over whether Sunderland’s latest recruit could handle the physicality and rigours of the senior game were quickly put to bed.
Callum Doyle’s debut was one of the more promising we have seen in recent years, and was followed by an equally assured showing from Corry Evans when he entered the fray in the second half.
The duo both played their part in the pre-season win at Hearts and showed glimpses of what they can bring moving forward.
Here, we take a look at their respective debuts and what it showed us about the road forward for the pair:
There was plenty of intrigue when Doyle was named in the starting line-up – but by half-time he had all-but certainly won over any doubters.
He put in a mature display befitting of a player far more experience, and showed exactly why he is so highly-regarded by Premier League champions Manchester City.
With barely seconds on the clock the 17-year-old showed his quality, stepping out from the back before threading a fine pass into Ross Stewart.
His distribution throughout the game was excellent – as showcased in his defence-splitting pass that set Sunderland on their way to winning a first-half penalty – and he was certainly comfortable with the ball at his feet.
But he was equally as impressive in the air, winning headers and doing what you would likely describe as ‘proper defending’.
His pace will prove to be a real asset to the Black Cats too, and there were a number of times he covered for Tom Flanagan and helped to snuff out situations which could have proven dangerous.
Indeed, one first-half tackle on Gary Mackay-Steven was particularly impressive and rightfully drew praise from the Sunderland bench.
He looks an ideal replacement for Dion Sanderson and is exactly the mould of defender the side needed to add.
The usual caveats of this being a pre-season fixture apply, but Doyle arguably couldn’t have wished for a better start.
It was tricky to give any real judgement on Evans given he was introduced at a time where the flow of the game had already been disrupted due to a number of changes on both sides.
But the experienced midfielder did show some glimpses of what he will bring to the Sunderland side this season.
Sat in a deeper midfield role, Evans did well to break up play and was a good shield for the back four.
He then distributed the ball in a tidy and effective manner, helping get Sunderland’s creative players on the ball.
And while many of his passes were short range, simple balls, he also showcased his vision with some excellent switches out into wide areas.
There is undoubtedly much more to come from Evans, who is still someway short of full fitness after an uncertain summer.
But again, this was a positive platform from which to build ahead of the Black Cats’ remaining pre-season fixtures.