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Sunderland’s last Championship opening day XI featuring £13.6m enforcer and 13-time China international

Following four seasons in League One, Sunderland are back in the Championship after Alex Neil secured the Black Cats return via the play-offs. Sunderland kick…

The post Sunderland’s last Championship opening day XI featuring £13.6m enforcer and 13-time China international appeared first on HITC.

Following four seasons in League One, Sunderland are back in the Championship after Alex Neil secured the Black Cats return via the play-offs.

Sunderland kick off the 2022-23 campaign in the second tier of English football by welcoming Coventry City to the Stadium of Light on Sunday (31/7).

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Sunderland’s last opening Championship fixture came via a 1-1 home draw against Derby County in August 2017 when Simon Grayson was in charge.

With it being half a decade since the Black Cats’ last Championship opening day fixture, Ladunblog Sport takes a look at Sunderland’s last Championship opening day XI.

Sunderland’s last Championship opening day XI

Jason Steele – Brighton & Hove Albion

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Following his arrival from Blackburn Rovers, Steele spent a solitary campaign with Sunderland before joining Brighton where he remains Robert Sanchez’s understudy.

Billy Jones – Retired

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Jones spent four years at the Stadium of Light after making the move up north from Rotherham United and made 96 appearances for the Black Cats.

After a brief loan spell with the club where his career began – Crewe Alexandra, Jones retired last summer.

Lamine Kone – Free agent

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Sam Allardyce signed the Ivory Coast international from French side Lorient in January 2016 and Kone helped inspire the Black Cats to safety in the Premier League.

The 33-year-old, who is currently a free agent after leaving Swiss side Lausanne-Sport, made 72 appearances for Sunderland.

Tyias Browning – Guangzhou FC

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

The former Everton academy graduate joined Sunderland on a season-long loan for the 2017/18 Championship campaign.

The 13-time China international made 29 appearances for the Black Cats and he’s currently plying his trade in the Chinese Super League.

Brendan Galloway – Plymouth Argyle

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

As well as Browning, Sunderland also signed Galloway on a season-long loan from Everton and the pair started the 2017-18 Championship opener against the Rams together.

Unlike Browning, Galloway didn’t feature as frequently for the Black Cats, making just eight appearances. The two-time Zimbabwe international is currently playing in League One with The Pilgrims.

Lee Cattermole – Retired

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Following his move from Wigan Athletic, Cattermole spent a decade at the Stadium of Light before moving to Dutch side VVV-Venlo in 2019.

Cattermole spent a season overseas before retiring in 2020. The former Black Cats captain made 262 appearances for Sunderland and he is currently the manager of Middlesbrough’s Under-18s side.

Didier Ndong – Dijon

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Sunderland splashed out £13.6m to sign the Gabon international from Lorient in August 2016, which was the highest fee the club had paid up front for a player.

The African made 54 appearances for the club before joining Watford on loan. The 28-year-old is currently playing for French side Dijon.

George Honyeman – Millwall

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

A product of the Sunderland academy, Honeyman made 97 appearances for the club from which he scored 15 goals before he joined Hull City.

After three years with the Tigers, the 27-year-old signed for Millwall this summer.

Aiden McGeady – Hibernian

Photo by Richard Sellers/Getty Images

The former Republic of Ireland international joined Sunderland from Everton in the summer of 2017 and went on to make 149 appearances for the club, scoring 36 goals and providing 34 assists.

The 36-year-old joined Scottish Premiership side Hibernian on a free transfer earlier in the summer.

Lewis Grabban – Free agent

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Grabban’s penalty cancelled out Bradley Johnson’s opener in the 1-1 draw between Sunderland and Derby County back in August 2017.

The Jamaican spent the first half of the 2017-18 season on loan at the Stadium of Light from Bournemouth and he scored 12 goals from 19 Championship matches for the Black Cats.

Despite helping Nottingham Forest secure promotion back up to the Premier League for the first time in 23 years, the 34-year-old opted against extending his stay at the City Ground and left the club as a free agent.

James Vaughan – Retired

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Vaughan spent six months at the Stadium of Light after arriving in July 2017 before joining Wigan.

The former Everton youngster scored two goals in 27 appearances for Sunderland. The 34-year-old retired last summer after returning to Tranmere Rovers.

The post Sunderland’s last Championship opening day XI featuring £13.6m enforcer and 13-time China international appeared first on Ladunblog.

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