Accrington Stanley have signed Sunderland defender Michael Liddle for an undisclosed fee, following a loan spell at the Crown Ground last season.
Liddle, who played 12 times for Stanley, has signed a one-year deal.
"I enjoyed my loan last year and I knew that all I wanted to do this season was get out and play first team football," said the 22-year-old.
"When I realised I wasn't going to get a chance at Sunderland, my first thought was to get back to Accrington."
Speaking to the club website, Liddle continued: "A lot of people have said to me that it's a step back, but sometimes you've got to take a step back to go forward. And for me it's not even a step back.
"From the reserves this is a step forward and it was an easy decision."
Liddle played just eight minutes of first-team football for Sunderland, as a substitute in an FA Cup tie against non-league Barrow in January 2010.