Sunderland's interim head coach Mike Dodds played down any talk of regret in allowing Jewison Bennette to head out on loan to Greek side Aris after Jack Clarke picked up ankle ligament damage that'll keep their talisman out for six weeks.

However, after another injury blow to his defensive options, he might be ruing the decision to send centre-back Nectar Triantis on loan to Hibernian. Jenson Seelt is the latest red and white casualty to be ruled out for the Championship run in, confirming he'd picked up a long-term injury in the recent defeat to Southampton. The Black Cats have endured a torrid time when it comes to injuries at the back.

Dennis Cirkin, Aji Alese and Niall Huggins have all been long-term absentees, with Seelt joining that list. Both Luke O'Nien and Dan Ballard have been walking a suspension tightrope, falling foul to their tenth booking and ruled out of action in recent weeks.

The latter of the centre-half pairing also picked up what looked like a hamstring injury in the 4-2 defeat at St. Mary's, piling further misery on Dodds.

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The arrival of Leo Hjelde in the January transfer window pushed Triantis further down the pecking order at the Stadium of Light, despite praise from former Sunderland boss Michael Beale.

The young Australian would make just three senior appearances for the Black Cats and was a regular for the Under-21s before sealing a loan move north of the border on Deadline Day.

After a tough start to life at Easter Road, Hibs boss Nick Montgomery - who was manager at Central Coast Mariners when Triantis played for the club - made a tactical tweak to move to centre-half into midfield.

"Look, he's really versatile," Montgomery told the Hibs Observer. "He can play centre-back, he can play six and if you are a deep-lying six, a defensive midfielder, it's a similar position. He's technically very good on the ball.

"He's still young and he's had success in his relatively short career. But he went six months, really, without playing after he moved to Sunderland, which is a big move for a young player.

"You could see against Rangers, especially in the second half, that he is a player who can really dictate play, and physically he is very good.

"I've been really happy with Nectar since he came in - and I know he can be better. But every game and every training session is an opportunity for him to improve."

We Are Sunderland: Nectar Triantis closes down Rangers forward Fabio Silva.Nectar Triantis closes down Rangers forward Fabio Silva. (Image: PA Wire)

When asked if he was worried about Triantis after a tough start to life in Scottish football, playing for Hibs reserves before going back into the first-team, Montgomery said: "Not really. I have full trust in Nectar. The first game he came in, Paul Hanlon fell sick that morning, so I had no option but to throw him in - we only had Will Fish as a centre-back.

"He came in and a couple of decisions probably went against him, but I know Nectar's character and that doesn't bother him. You can see now that coming into the team, in a game of that magnitude, I thought his performance was really strong.

"He's getting better every training session and every game and it's good you have players that are versatile - it definitely makes the squad stronger."

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While Hibs may be getting stronger, injuries at the Stadium of Light means Dodds' squad is considerably weaker than this point in January. The club was crying out for a number nine and a holding midfielder and they got neither.

That being said, the tactical tweak to move Triantis into midfield could open the door for him on his return to Sunderland. So what do the stats say?

We Are Sunderland: How Nectar Triantis compares with the rest of the Scottish Premiership centre-backs.How Nectar Triantis compares with the rest of the Scottish Premiership centre-backs. (Image: StatsBomb)Statistically, Triantis is among the top performers in terms of aerial wins and pressures from centre-half, but in the four games he's started at centre-back, the Hibees have conceded eight goals.

His aggressiveness to go and win the ball back could play in to why Montgomery has opted for a positional change. Against Celtic, we see his willingness to go back and win the ball when playing as centre-back.

We Are Sunderland: Nectar Triantis recognises the danger as Celtic look to play out wide.Nectar Triantis recognises the danger as Celtic look to play out wide. (Image: Wyscout)

The Australian centre-back presses Celtic playmaker Matt O'Riley and forces the Danish international to think quickly and into a mistake.

We Are Sunderland: Triantis recognises Celtic have an overload out wide and puts Matt O'Riley under pressure.Triantis recognises Celtic have an overload out wide and puts Matt O'Riley under pressure. (Image: Wyscout)

The phase of play ends up in a turnover of possession, with Hibernian winning the ball, even though O'Riley gets beyond Triantis.

We Are Sunderland: Hibernian turnover possession thanks to some aggressiveness from Triantis.Hibernian turnover possession thanks to some aggressiveness from Triantis. (Image: Wyscout)

It's his aggressiveness and pressures which also puts him among the Scottish Premiership's best defenders, ranking above the league average. However, there's work to do when it comes to other areas of his game, including giving away fouls.

In Hibs' recent cup clash with Rangers, which ended in a 2-0 defeat due to the hosts going down to nine men, Triantis was shown a yellow card after just seven minutes, but managed to tip-toe through the game before being replaced in the 81st minute.

“That’s something where it doesn’t matter your age, you don’t get caught up with the emotion and being on the yellow card early is always a risk for any player," Montgomery said. "He’s a smart kid, he’s honest, and he made sure of that after that incident.

“We were down to eight outfield players at the end and I took him off because I didn’t really want to risk him making a late tackle and losing him as well, so it was a tactical substitution because the boys were spent with energy. I think we played 25 minutes with nine men so it wasn’t easy.”

If we delve deeper into the recent 2-2 draw with Ross County, where the Australian played 90 minutes in a holding midfield role, we get a glimpse into the future and what he might bring to Sunderland if they utilise him in this role.

We Are Sunderland: Hibernian's pass map in their 2-2 draw with Ross County, Nectar Triantis number 23 in the heart of midfield.Hibernian's pass map in their 2-2 draw with Ross County, Nectar Triantis number 23 in the heart of midfield. (Image: Wyscout)Triantis is heavily involved in midfield for Hibs, his ball playing skills on full display. Of the 50 passes he attempted, 45 of those were accurate, the joint highest alongside Manchester United loanee Will Fish.

Of those inaccurate passes, all of them were forward, progressive passes as he looked to get his side on the attack. His passes backward were 100 per cent accurate, completing eight out of eight, while his lateral passes were also 100 per cent accurate completing all 24.

The eight long passes he attempted were also 100 per cent accurate, completing one key pass and getting one shot assist.

The Sunderland loanee also won ten of his 15 duels, again the joint highest in the Hibs ranks alongside Elie Youan.

We Are Sunderland: Triantis completed the third highest recoveries for Hibernian against Ross County.Triantis completed the third highest recoveries for Hibernian against Ross County. (Image: Wyscout)While there'll be debate over whether or not Triantis should have been allowed to leave the club on loan, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

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After a tough start, the Sunderland loanee is getting plenty of game time and has impressed in the heart of midfield. The Black Cats may well have stumbled on an answer to their holding midfield conundrum, without having to venture back into the transfer market.

Admittedly, it's probably too early to make that call but it's one for the club to keep a close eye on in the coming weeks.

After all, there's plenty of talk of the standard of the Scottish Premiership in comparison to English football, but that's a debate for another day.