Three Sunderland breakthrough stars for the 2014-15 season

Costel Pantilimon, Patrick van Aanholt and Connor Wickham are the three breakthrough players for Sunderland this season.

Costel Pantilimon

Costel Pantilimon is 28 years of age and joined Sunderland in the summer of 2014 on a free transfer after leaving Manchester City.

The Romania international is not exactly a new kid on the block, but this is the first season in England in which he is playing regularly.

Pantilimon started the 2014-15 Premier League campaign as Sunderland’s second-choice goalkeeper, but following a number of mistakes from Vito Mannone, he is now the team’s number one between the posts.

The former Politehnica Timisoara star has featured in 21 league matches for the Black Cats so far this season, making on average 3.43 saves per game and 2.88 saves per goal.

Patrick van Aanholt

It must have come as a huge disappointment to Patrick van Aanholt when Chelsea decided to let him go in the summer of 2014.

However, the 24-year-old Netherlands international defender has recovered brilliantly and is now one of the better players in the Sunderland squad.

Despite his injury problems, Van Aanholt has featured in 20 Premier League matches so far this season, creating 21 chances and having a pass accuracy of 83% in the process.

This is the first time that the Dutchman is playing regularly in the English top flight, and he is showing his quality.

Van Aanholt has won 21 of the 39 dribbles he has attempted and 43 of the 93 tackles he has made in the league so far this campaign.

Connor Wickham

Connor Wickham has a long way to go before he can become Sunderland’s number one striker, but the youngster has shown his potential.

Just like Pantilimon and Van Aanholt, Wickham has been around for a while, but this term he is getting an extended run in the first team.

The 21-year-old has scored three goals and created 15 chances in 28 Premier League appearances, although his pass accuracy of 64% and shot accuracy of 42% leave much to be desired.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch