After seeing his side miss out on promotion via the play-offs last season, Sunderland manager Lee Johnson will now be determined to guide the club to the Championship during the current campaign.
Whilst the Black Cats did recently suffer an unexpected defeat at the hands of Burton Albion, their overall form this season has been relatively impressive.
As well as sealing four victories in League One, Sunderland have managed to book their place in the third round of the League Cup by knocking Blackpool and Port Vale out of the competition.
Set to face an Accrington Stanley side on Saturday who currently occupy the second automatic promotion place in the third-tier, the Black Cats will be determined to deliver a promising performance in-front of their supporters at the Stadium of Light.
Whereas the likes of Elliot Embleton and Ross Stewart are expected to feature for Sunderland in this particular fixture, Denver Hume is set to miss out as he looks to build up his fitness.
The defender recently decided to re-join Sunderland after assessing his options during the summer transfer window.
Making reference to Hume’s new deal, Johnson has admitted that the club did not decide to offer improved terms after initially tabling a contract earlier this year.
The Sunderland boss also revealed that the club will be looking to ease the defender back into the action.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo ahead of his side’s showdown with Accrington about whether Hume signed the original deal that was presented to him, Johnson said: “Absolutely.
“That is the one he signed.”
Johnson later added: “I think first and foremost we have to assess where he [Hume] is physically.
“There is a lot that has gone on and he has to get that confidence back in his hamstring and in his performance.
“Physically he’s a really good mover so that never really stands out as a problem in his sprint technique and defending movement.”
With Hume finally deciding to commit his future to Sunderland earlier this week, it will be intriguing to see whether he will be able to overtake Dennis Cirkin in the pecking order at the club in the coming months.
Whilst the left-back did manage to record a relatively impressive average WhoScored match rating of 6.83 in the third-tier during the previous campaign, it may take him some time to get back up to speed due to the fact that he was unable to take part in pre-season.
Keeping this in mind, it could be argued that Johnson’s stance regarding how to re-introduce Hume is spot-on as it will minimise the risk of another injury.
Providing that Hume is able to take his game to new heights this season, he could end up playing a crucial role in helping Sunderland achieve their goal of automatic promotion in 2022.