One figure at the Wearside club that played a big part in their recent campaign was Dan Neil.
With 39 league appearances to his name, prior to the play-offs, only four other Sunderland players racked up more minutes than the midfielder.
Having scored three goals and provided seven assists in the league, the 20-year-old also delivered 27 crosses, made 31 interceptions and won 31 tackles last season.
This highlights just how much of a well-rounded midfielder he is and how capable he is of being an attacking threat and a tough opponent when out of possession.
Now that the Black Cats have a Championship campaign ahead of them, they can use the summer transfer window to make sure their squad is strong enough to compete and avoid getting put back in League One.
In terms of incoming transfers, one figure that the Wearside club have been linked with that could give them a next version of Neil is Southampton midfielder Will Smallbone.
In those appearances, the Irishman has found the net 14 times and supplied 15 assists across all competitions.
As well as being a useful figure in terms of scoring and creating goals, Smallbone has also won 17 tackles and made 58 successful pressures, 17 blocks, four interceptions and seven clearances over his 16 Premier League appearances for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
This shows that he has some defensive talent in him as well and why he’d be a potential next version of Neil at the Stadium of Light.
To further highlight what sort of player he is, the Southampton boss had this to say about the £6k-per-week midfielder.
He said: “The whole package is strong, with a lot of potential in my view. He has a lot of things that really help a team, being good on the ball, covering a lot of distance, but also to work against the ball and win balls, this is very important.”
Moving forward, if the opportunity arises to secure a deal for the Saints youngster this summer, Sunderland should do all they can to get him.