David Moyes had one eye on the future when he returned to Manchester United in the summer to sign duo Paddy McNair and Donald Love.
The pair arrived on Wearside for a combined £5.5million fee, with McNair and Love penning four-year deals.
Both were earmarked as players with huge potential but were thrown into the first team given the chronic injury problems facing Sunderland.
Five months on and Love has opened up about life at Sunderland, competition for places and playing for Moyes.
“I love working under this manager,” Love admitted. “He is very hands-on in training, really involved, and he loves putting faith in younger players and you can learn so much from him, the experience he has.
“The gaffer has always given younger players a chance.
“Duncan [Watmore] and Paddy were playing in the team before their injuries, Goochy has played, I have been getting games, Jordan [Pickford] is flying in goal.
“If he puts faith in you, then you will give 100% every time you play. It is all good experience.
“Hopefully I can keep improving as well as the team and we can push on.
“I am loving my time here.
“I have settled in and I am getting to know everyone and the club and what it is about.”
Love started the first three games this season before Javier Manquillo and later Billy Jones were drafted in, with Love dropping to the bench.
A hip injury to Jones in the narrow defeat to Chelsea this month saw Love impress as a sub before starting against Watford last weekend, the 22-year-old helping achieve only the second clean sheet of the campaign.
Should Jones and Manquillo again miss out, Love is in line to start against Manchester United.
“It was unfortunate that Billy got injured and I was the only one that could play right-back,” said a modest Love. “The manager wanted me to do a job for the team and I have done that – we kept a clean sheet and got the three points.
“I think I have settled more now and can hopefully come in and play with a bit more confidence.
“Against Shrewsbury earlier in the season, I didn’t have the best game. I have wanted to show the fans what I can do.
“Hopefully I did that against Watford and they were pleased with my performance.”
With Love, Manquillo and experienced Jones all vying for a spot, competition at right-back is hotting up.
Love added: “There is healthy competition.
“We have a really tight-knit group. Nobody is looking at each other saying ‘why is he playing?’
“Everyone wants whatever team the manager picks to go out there and do their best. I have learned a lot just from watching Billy the last few weeks before his injury.
“He has been in really good form. He doesn’t do the special thingsn but he does the little things well and I have learned an awful lot working with and watching him.”
The nine-day break between the Watford win and the Boxing Day trip to Manchester United was a chance for tired limbs to recover after three games in a week including a long trip to Swansea.
“It is credit to the medical team, they make sure everyone is recovered properly,” added Love.
“A few of the lads have played three 90 minutes in a week and got through it without any serious injuries.”