Sunderland are currently fighting for a return to the Championship following 2018’s relegation to the third tier.
The Black Cats suffered the heartache of back-to-back relegations when they slipped from the Premier League to League One in the space of two seasons.
Now under the stewardship of manager Phil Parkinson, the Black Cats are in a good position to put behind last season’s play-off heartbreak and return to the top flight.
Sunderland flirted with Premier League relegation for a number seasons, pulling off numerous escapes before eventually succumbing to the drop under David Moyes in 2017.
One of their escapes was masterminded by former Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce when he took charge of the club in October 2015.
With only six games to go of the 2015-2016 season, Sunderland won three and drew three of their remaining games, securing Premier League safety with a 3-0 win over Everton, relegating rivals Newcastle United in the process.
Allardyce would leave the club that summer for his infamous stint as England boss and here we have taken a look at three players who would walk into the current Sunderland side…
The 37-year-old enjoyed a good spell on Wearside between 2015-2017, scoring 37 goals in 97 appearances for the club.
Defoe was also the Black Cats’ top goalscorer during the 2015-2016 season with 15 goals,
Following a stint at Bournemouth, Defoe moved north of the border to Rangers in January 2019, where he scored eight goals in 17 league appearances for Steven Gerrard’s men.
Defoe is enjoying another fruitful campaign up in Scotland, and there is no doubt his goals would be welcome as Sunderland look to break out of League One.
England’s number one will certainly always be remembered by the Sunderland faithful, after coming through the club’s academy and going on to make 35 appearances for the club.
Following the club’s relegation, the 25-year-old would join Everton for a then club-record fee of £25m with the goalkeeper being a regular starter at Goodison Park ever since.
Pickford pulled off a memorable performance in England’s World Cup penalty shoot-out win over Colombia back in 2018 and kept 14 clean-sheets for the Toffees last term.
There is no questioning that current goalkeeper Jon McLaughlin is having a good season, but that wouldn’t stop the England number one walking into Phil Parkinson’s side.
QUIZ: Do you know which clubs Sunderland signed these 15 players from?
Patrick van Aanholt
One of Sunderland’s most creative players under Allardyce, Patrick van Aanholt scored five goals and chipped in with three assists following the 65-year-old’s appointment.
The left-back enjoyed getting forward for the Black Cats and scored three goals in four league matches in a fruitful January period.
Van Aanholt also provided an assist in the 3-2 win over Chelsea and scored against Everton in the following game where the Black Cats secured their Premier League status.
The 29-year-old joined Crystal Palace in 2017 where he would link up with Sam Allardyce once again as the Eagles secured their Premier League status for a fourth consecutive season.
Van Aanholt’s natural ability to get forward and provide an attacking threat would ensure he would be able to walk straight into this current Sunderland team.