While the fate of the suspended Regi Blinker was David Pleat's main concern off the pitch, the Sheffield Wednesday manager must have been more than satisfied with the performance on the field of another of his overseas imports.
Benito Carbone is one of English football's less heralded recruits from Italy, but that will not last long if he continues to play as he did at Roker Park on Saturday. With his deft touches and astute passing, the former Internazionale player was a handful throughout the match.
Carbone gave a perfect demonstration of his talents in the opening seconds, when he cleverly sent Andy Booth clear, only for the Wednesday striker to scorn an outstanding chance. Although Wednesday were outplayed for much of the first half, Carbone inspired a much improved display after the interval.
As for Blinker, Pleat is hoping that Fifa, the governing body of international football, will lift its ban in time for the player to face West Ham on Saturday. Blinker has been suspended indefinitely for signing a declaration of intent with the Italian club Udinese before joining Wednesday last March from Feyenoord for pounds 250,000.
"I expect it to be cleared up very quickly," Pleat said. "The president of Udinese does not want any problems with it. It's just something that has been on the desk of Fifa and they have not closed the file."
Blinker's replacement, Scott Oakes, gave Wednesday the lead with a low drive from 25 yards but Andy Melville equalised with his first goal of the season two minutes later, slamming the ball into the roof of the net from close range after a miskick by David Kelly.
The goal was no less than the home side deserved and Peter Reid, the Sunderland manager, said he was delighted with his team's attitude. However, he was less impressed with the behaviour of a section of the home crowd who booed Paul Stewart.
Goals: Oakes (66) 0-1; Melville (68) 1-1.
Sunderland (4-4-2): Perez; Hall, Kubicki, Melville, Scott; Kelly, Ball (Rae 45), Bracewell, Smith; Stewart, Bridges (Russell 72). Substitutes not used: Preece (gk), Agnew, Gray.
Sheffield Wednesday (4-5-1): Pressman; Atherton, Newsome, Walker, Nolan; Carbone, Oakes (Humphreys, 84), Hyde, Trustfull (Whittingham, 55), Pembridge; Booth. Substitutes not used: Clarke (gk), Briscoe, Stefanovic.
Referee: G Barber (Warwick).
Bookings: Sunderland: Bridges. Wednesday: Atherton.
Man of the match: Carbone.
Attendance: 20,644.Reuse content