Bryan Oviedo is one of a number of Sunderland stars to experience a new test this season.
Most are fighting at a level that is alien to them. Some, like Dylan McGeouch, have tested themselves in England for the first time. Charlie Wyke has dealt with having a big price tag and some of the young guns have been fighting first team places.
Oviedo has a battle unlike the other players. he’s had to remain motivated and committed despite not being around the first team.
In fact, since his failed move to West Brom, he hadn’t played a single minute of football. That was, until this weekend and the 2-1 win at Rochdale.
Spotland isn’t a ground on which you expect to see international footballers take a step towards redemption, nor is it a place where former Premier League players usually come away with any credit. If you’ve played top flight and you visit Rochdale in the league, you’re on a downward trajectory.
That’s not the full story with Oviedo. He hasn’t played as many games as he’d like and he’s almost certain to leave the Black Cats this summer, but when he does it’ll be with the praise of their fans ringing in his ears.
He hasn’t made a splash in terms of impact, that much is true, but his attitude has been excellent, not only this season but also through the last campaign.
He was one of the players who could have dug his heels in, like Didier Ndong. He arrived from Everton as a Premier League player and experienced successive relegations.
Instead of throwing his toys out of the pram and demanding a move, he kept his head down and battled. This season he got first team exposure early on, but drifted away from the action.
His failed move seemed to signal the end of his Sunderland career, but in half an hour this weekend at Spotland he showed his character. He’s never complained, he’s never demanded a transfer. he’s worked hard to be given a chance.
He didn’t come on and turn the game, but he gave a committed performance and that fully demonstrated his professionalism.
He won’t have come away from the game feeling his salvaged his Black Cats career, but he can be content with the fact that once again, he’s shown what type of man he is. Any club wanting to sign him in the summer can do so knowing he’s got exactly the sort of man you need in a fight.