Jack Ross is delighted to have striker Charlie Wyke finally at his disposal.
At half-time on Saturday the Sunderland manager was faced with a decision – shut up shop and accept the situation or be bold and try to make something happen.
Trailing to Ricky Holmes’ early free-kick, the Black Cats’ afternoon took another turn for the worst when Max Power saw red for a foul on Marcus Browne in the centre of the pitch.
But at the break, Ross threw on Wyke for his debut and just seven minutes later he was justified in making that decision.
The physical presence of Wyke proved too much for Oxford to handle, as Lynden Gooch took up an inside right position, weaved left and right before arrowing a low strike towards the bottom corner which Wyke flicked home.
While Oxford, with their man advantage, continued to come on strong in the closing stages, the Black Cats held firm to continue their unbeaten start to life in Sky Bet League One.
“He came on a lot earlier than planned and we expected,” Ross said.
“Our hand was forced a little bit in terms of the circumstances of the game.
“We thought playing Charlie as a focal point and playing Josh (Maja) and Lynden (Gooch) in half and half positions.
“We had two choices at half time, we could either have gone really defensive and accepted where we were or try to be bold.”
“I am really pleased for him because it has been a frustrating period for him,” he continued.
“Credit to his conditioning levels throughout his injury period that he was able to come back and produce that type of performance for 45 minutes – it was an ideal start for him.”