ANDREA Dossena completed his first 90 minutes in a Sunderland shirt tonight, as the former Liverpool left-back helped the Black Cats Under-21s to a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa.
Left-back Dossena has been out of action with a thigh problem since arriving at the Stadium of Light on a one-year deal from Napoli on transfer deadline day.
But the 32-year-old returned to full training last week and came through unscathed at Tamworth, with the draw keeping Sunderland in second spot in the U21 Premier League.
Dossena was part of a strong line-up which included fellow summer arrivals El-Hadji Ba, David Moberg Karlsson and Duncan Watmore, plus £8million frontman Connor Wickham.
And it was Wickham who went close to a second minute opener with a free-kick from 25 yards which dipped just over the bar.
Graham Burke hit the post for Villa before Wickham went close again with a shot on the rebound in the fifth minute which keeper Benjamin Siegrist palmed away.
Daniel Johnson drew a smart save out of Joel Dixon in the Sunderland goal before Villa took the lead on the half-hour mark when Riccardo Calder converted Andras Stieber’s corner.
Wickham went close to an immediate equaliser when he headed Moberg Karlsson’s corner inches past the post before Alex Gorrin fired just wide four minutes before the break.
Sunderland finally levelled in the 62nd minute when George Honeyman’s shot hit the post and Moberg Karlsson was there to convert the rebound.
The closest the Black Cats came to a winner was six minutes later when Wickham saw his shot blocked at the death by Bradley Lewis.
ASTON VILLA: Siegrist, Webb, Donacien, Lewis (Abdo 74), Kinsella, Stieber (Bateman 74), Cowans, Johnson, Calder (Graham 80), Burke, Robinson. Subs not used: Watkins, Sellars
SUNDERLAND: Dixon, Marrs, McNamee, Harrison, Dossena, Ba (Agnew 63), Gorrin, Honeyman, Watmore, Wickham, Honeyman (Lawson 63), Moberg Karlsson (Mitchell 80). Subs not used: Talbot, Ferguson