Martin O'Neill will be keeping a close eye on David Meyler during his loan spell with Hull City.
The midfielder recently agreed to join the Tigers, who travel to Birmingham City in the Npower Championship today.
Meyler's first-team opportunities have been limited on Wearside this season and O'Neill says the move is a good chance for him to get match sharp.
"[The move] is very important for him because he needs some games, and he's going to get that at Hull," he explained.
"He's playing for a cause every single week and that's important to him. I think that it can only enhance his chances. When he does come back again at least - if called upon - he's going to be match fit.
"David has had a number of injuries, from which he's made a remarkable recovery. He's got a great heart and I just hope that he takes this opportunity. [Then] we'll take it from there."