Sunderland boss Steve Bruce warned his defenders they have a fight on their hands after seeing new boys John Mensah and Paulo da Silva stake their claims for a regular place in emphatic style.
The Ghana and Paraguay international captains made their first home starts in the Black Cats' 2-0 Carling Cup victory over Birmingham, and turned in assured displays with £8million signing Anton Ferdinand an interested spectator on the bench.
Bruce could now have big decisions to make ahead of Sunday's Barclays Premier League clash with Wolves. He said: "You just see Mensah and you look and think, `That's a bit of quality'. He has got that arrogance that top players have got, he is quick, powerful, he jumps, heads the ball well, he's tough.
"That's why he is captain of his country and da Silva mirrors him in that respect. He will be okay too.
"It's taken a little while but the two of them are here now, they are part of us now, thankfully. They will be big players for the club, I am sure of that.
"The two of them are captains of their countries, and you don't captain your country unless you have got something."