Paddy McNair scored a stunning goal in the 2-2 draw with Reading, with Chris Coleman again heaping praise on the midfielder.
The Northern Ireland international has been in superb form since returning to the Sunderland side after a series of troublesome groin injuries following his comeback from a serious knee injury.
Coleman has often spoken about building the team around him next season and he showcased his talents again in the draw at Reading.
With Sunderland trailing 1-0, two minutes into the second half McNair picked up the ball 12-yards from the centre circle, then pressed forward before unleashing an unstoppable 35-yard pile-driver past ex-Sunderland stopper Vito Mannone.
Coleman beamed: "We are a different team with him in the side.
"Paddy is 6ft 3ins, he is a threat, into everything.
"He is a threat from set plays, can score goals and helps out as defensive set plays.
"We haven't had him for so much of the season and we have needed him. Of course it's not his fault, he came back from a really serious injury.
"If you look at our team, we have never had a consistent team; it is normal at our place to have five or six injuries, it is often, sometimes 10 or 11.
"That is the make-up of the squad. We have not been able to get that consistency on the pitch.
"We are always playing catch-up and without Paddy McNair it has been very tough."
The point did little to boost flagging survival hopes, with Sunderland six points adrift of safety and now bottom of the Championship with only three games to go.