On Sunday, Sunderland face Port Vale in the FA Cup First Round. And it is the perfect time for Jack Ross to take a look at some fringe players in competitive action.
Ross will be considering which players to rest and which players to include for the trip to Port Vale.
It could be a good opportunity to run the rule over two potentially exciting young strikers.
Andrew Nelson and Benjamin Mbunga-Kimpioka are on the verges of the first-team squad but both need a chance to show what they can do.
Nelson spent last season on loan at Falkirk, scoring four times in 12 league games.
The 21-year-old is energetic and can be a handful for defenders but he needs the chance to prove that he can make it at Sunderland, or risk being permanently axed.
Nelson is behind Josh Maja, Jerome Sinclair and Charlie Wyke in the pecking order so he will be eager to grasp his opportunity if it arises.
Kimpioka, on the other hand, has been given some senior chances by Ross already.
The 18-year-old made his debut in the EFL Trophy against Stoke under-21s in early September and was rewarded with a late cameo in the league the following month.
Previously targeted by Arsenal, the Sweden under-19 international scored in the next EFL Trophy game.
Sunday’s trip to Port Vale is the perfect time for Kimpioka, and Nelson too, to stake first-team claims with a good display.