Jordan Pickford described making his Sunderland debut in Saturday’s FA Cup defeat at Arsenal as the proudest moment of his life.
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce made seven changes for the third-round tie at Emirates Stadium after complaining about the fixture pile-up.
His strugglers face a trip to Swansea on Wednesday night before an early Saturday afternoon kick-off at Tottenham on Saturday.
The most notable of his changes was in goal, where he handed a debut to Pickford.
Having spent the first half of the season on loan at Preston, the England Under-21 goalkeeper was recalled and drafted in for the game at Arsenal – and the local boy was delighted to make his Sunderland bow.
“It was a dream come true as a young lad coming from Washington and a Sunderland fan,” he told the club’s official website.
“Obviously the result wasn’t the best, but from a personal point of view it was the proudest moment of my life, and for my family as well.
“I have been on a lot of loans and have benefited from each of them. The Preston one really helped me. I’m thankful that they took me, I came back and there’s nothing better (than) to go and play.
“I didn’t feel too nervous. I kind of told myself it was just another game and I had to keep the ball out of the net.
“I’ve made my debut now and I couldn’t ask for any more. I’ll have to carry on working hard in training and keep putting the pressure on.”