LEE JOHNSON was unable to attend the Stadium of Light last night after suffering from an outbreak of gastroenteritis, but Will Grigg will be hoping he was at least able to catch the final seconds of Sunderland’s pre-season campaign on a video feed.

Grigg nodded home from an acute angle in the first minute of stoppage time to ensure the Black Cats signed off their preparations ahead of next weekend’s League One opener against Wigan with a win over Hull City, and while it would be stretching it to suggest the Northern Irishman has reignited his Sunderland career, at least he has provided a reminder of his continued existence.

It is October 2019 since Grigg last scored a competitive goal for Sunderland, and while there is still every chance he will be sold before the transfer window closes at the end of this month, he could yet find himself involved in the opening few games of the season, such is the lack of attacking alternatives within the Black Cats’ squad. Rediscover his goalscoring form there, and perhaps he really will catch fire again.

Grigg’s stoppage-time winner was the only real highlight on an otherwise unremarkable night that highlighted the glaring gaps that still exist within Sunderland’s first-team group.

Will last night’s starting side be the team that kicks off the season in seven days’ time? Even if there are new arrivals in the next few days, something that is badly required, it might have to be.

The back four could well remain intact, which would mean Carl Winchester and Dan Neil continuing as emergency full-backs. Lee Johnson has been acknowledging the need for full-back additions for weeks, but appears to be no nearer to getting his targets through the door. With the start of the new campaign just a week away, that is clearly far from ideal.

The midfield three of Elliot Embleton, Corry Evans and Luke O’Nien appears reasonably settled, with Lynden Gooch an almost-certain starter against Wigan given the lack of viable alternatives. Stewart will begin the campaign as Sunderland’s main centre-forward, which just leaves Aiden McGeady, who should be fit next Saturday despite having had an injection to treat tendonitis in his knee. Provided McGeady is fit, he will start ahead of Josh Hawkes, who got the nod last night.

It is hard not to conclude that Sunderland’s current squad is weaker than the one that failed to win promotion last season, although Johnson will no doubt claim there is still a month of the transfer window to put that right.

At least the Wearsiders made a decent fist of their final pre-season outing, with Embleton especially impressive, as he has been all summer. The 22-year-old appears to have returned from Blackpool as a much more confident midfielder, and his creativity could be crucial to Sunderland’s prospects.

He set up Stewart’s 26th-minute opener last night, sliding a precise through ball into the right of the area that enabled his team-mate to claim his first goal of pre-season, and came close to scoring himself on two occasions before the break with low efforts that were saved by Matt Ingram.

Hull equalised with 20 minutes left though, with full-back Lewie Coyle sliding in a low cross from the right and Josh Magennis getting ahead of his marker to sweep home a first-time finish.

Grigg had the final say though, heading home from close range after Josh Hawkes had nodded a free-kick back across goal.

Sunderland (4-3-3): Patterson; Winchester (Taylor 75), Flanagan, Doyle, Neil; Embleton (Diamond 60), Evans (O’Brien 46), O’Nien (Younger 60); Hawkes, Stewart (Grigg 75), Gooch.