It began as an understandable precaution, Jack Rodwell playing for 60 minutes or so before being subbed. This seemed unremarkable. At Manchester City, competition for places was so stiff and Rodwell’s injury record so troubling that he arrived at Sunderland short of match fitness.
But when he got that equaliser against Manchester United, it seemed a corner had been turned. Confidence would be high, fitness levels were presumably improving.