DENNIS CIRKIN’S loss was certainly Nectar Triantis’ gain as the Australian was handed a surprise first Championship start in Sunderland’s 3-1 win over Birmingham City.

Cirkin was due to start at left-back as the Black Cats hosted Birmingham at the Stadium of Light, but a recurrence of a hamstring problem during the warm-up meant the defender dropped out of the starting side.

Cirkin’s late absence meant Triantis was promoted from the substitutes’ bench to play at centre-half, with Trai Hume switching across to left-back.


Playing alongside fellow summer signing Jenson Seelt, Traintis started somewhat shakily in the opening half-hour or so, but he improved significantly as the game wore on and played a crucial role in Sunderland’s second goal, challenging for the ball on the goalline as Dion Sanderson deflected into his own net.

Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray said: “It’s frustrating for Dennis, obviously, but it’s great for Nectar. I’m delighted that him coming in has worked out so well.

“Nectar’s an amazing young man. I don’t know whether he came over expecting to get straight into Sunderland’s team and play, but with Luke O’Nien and Dan Ballard doing so well, he’s had to sit on the sidelines.

“He’s playing with the Under-21s – we sent him to Southampton the other week and he spent seven hours on a bus travelling down there and then seven hours travelling back. Yet he does it all with a smile on his face.

“He knows he’s a young footballer who hopefully has a big future at this club, but he also knows where he is in the pecking order at the moment. For him to get chucked in two minutes before kick-off was amazing for him, and I’m so happy for him because he’s such a nice kid.

“Some people who are not in the team can moan and groan, but this kid just wants to get better. He wants a bag of balls after every training session, and he’s practising with his left foot, his right foot, his heading. He’s here to be a big player for the future, and I’m so happy with him.”

Mowbray was also delighted with Seelt’s performance, with the Dutchman also making his first Championship start in the absence of suspended duo O’Nien and Ballard.

He said: “I thought he (Seelt) was good. In our minds, we’ve been wanting to get him onto the pitch, and yet it’s difficult. Really, he can play holding midfield, and a bit like with Trai, we’ve been thinking of rolling him into midfield.

“I think Jenson can do that because he’s so talented with the ball at his feet. But today, he stood up to the test. You could see at times, it was a bit quick. When they jumped on us and really pressed, there were a couple of moments where he was a second away from being caught on the ball, but he was generally very good.

“I think that’s expected of young players who haven’t played at the level – they have to get up to speed, and I’m so pleased for them both that they helped the team get the win and generally looked fine.”