Sunderland U23s manager Elliott Dickman has praised "real professional" Jan Kirchhoff after the German completed 64 minutes of football as he begins to work his way back from injury and into the first-team.
Several first-teamers turned out for the young Black Cats
Kirchhoff started alongside fellow first-team squad members Lynden Gooch, Donald Love and George Honeyman as the Black Cats lost 3-1 to Manchester United U23s at Eppleton CW, and the former Bayern man showed his class with some tidy touches and even came close to finding the net in the second half.
Speaking to the Sunderland Echo, Dickman said that Kirchhoff's involvement in the squad prior to the game was "great for the other lads" as he is "a real professional who helps them out a lot."
He added that the German was helping out the younger players in the squad by "talking to them and giving them advice", as well as allowing them to "see how he trains" as a player with experience playing in the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga and the Premier League.
Kirchhoff could return at a crucial time for Sunderland
The 26-year-old was not involved in the squad for Sunderland's 2-0 home defeat to Manchester City on Sunday afternoon, but given the Wearsiders now have a week off after the Tees-Wear derby with Middlesbrough was rescheduled fans may see Kirchhoff in the team against Burnley.
Dickman conceded that last night's defeat was "disappointing" and added that his side "didn't seem to have the enthusiasm to play and want to do the basics right", with the loss seeing Sunderland sliding down into seventh in the Premier League 2 with Manchester United leapfrogging them into sixth.
"Without the ball we were a little too open", said Dickman, whose side are yet to record a victory in 2017 after previous boss Andy Welsh left the club to take the assistant manager's position at Wigan Athletic.