Like every other club in Leagues One and Two, Sunderland will be restricted this transfer window due to the introduction of the salary cap. This is likely to mean clubs will need to look to their youngsters. Thankfully for Sunderland, they have several young stars ready for first-team involvement. Here is a look at three Sunderland youngsters to look out for this coming season.
Sunderland Youngsters to Look Out For
Twenty-year-old forward Jack Diamond shone on loan at Harrogate Town last season. Diamond was a star for them in the play-off final at Wembley, sealing the win with Town’s third goal as they rose to the Football League. Back on Wearside, it is hoped that Diamond can put himself into Phil Parkinson’s first-team thinking.
A winger by trade, Diamond has adapted his game to fit Parkinson’s formation of preferring wing-backs. During pre-season, he has been used in both the right and left wing-back positions and has impressed. Manager Parkinson is keen to work with the player on the training ground before deciding where his future lies. He excelled in the National League but League One is a big jump. Should the player need to develop further, he would have no shortage of suitors offering him a loan deal. Whatever is decided, Diamond looks to have a bright future ahead of him.
Embleton was breaking into the Sunderland first-team last season when injuries hit. First, he injured his hamstring last September, an injury that required surgery and kept him out until January. He returned to training; however, his first week back ended with another hamstring injury. Fans and manager Phil Parkinson were expecting him to play a big role in the Black Cats’ promotion bid. Due to the suspension of the league, however, Embleton didn’t get his chance.
The 21-year-old midfielder impressed on loan at Grimsby Town during the 2018/19 season, with the following season earmarked as the one that Embleton would secure a permanent place in the first-team squad. Despite his injury issues, Parkinson had intentions to involve him in the team’s promotion push last season: “I’ve always said to him that I feel he’s got a part to play somewhere along the line.
“Hopefully we can get him involved. He’s a player of real quality; he can unlock the door with a bit of quality, and I feel he’s got a role to play.”
There is little doubt that the England youth international has the talent to succeed; the big question is, can he overcome the injuries that keep halting his development?
Eighteen-year-old Dan Neil has played his way into Phil Parkinson’s first-team plans after some impressive pre-season performances. The attacking midfielder made his debut back in 2018 in the EFL Cup. This was his only competitive first-team appearance until he featured in the 8-1 demolition of Aston Villa U23 in the EFL Trophy at the Stadium of Light earlier this week.
Another product of Sunderland’s academy, Neil has just one year left on his current deal and clubs such as Leeds United and Wolverhampton Wanderers are circling to pounce should Sunderland not tie the player down to a new contract. Manager Phil Parkinson is keen to keep the talented youngster at the club having played his way into contention: “Dan is a talent, I think we can all see that. He can cover the ground, he can receive the ball on the turn, and his weight of pass is always spot on.
“He has put himself in contention, and that’s what you want because as a young player in football you don’t get the chance to feel your way in – you almost need to make an impact straight away when you play in the first team.
“That’s what Dan has done and we are very pleased with him.”
Sunderland Youngsters Can Follow in the Footsteps of Others
Sunderland have produced many talented players via their academy over years and Dan Neil, Elliot Embleton and Jack Diamond appear to be three Sunderland youngsters who could follow in the footsteps of the likes of England and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson – both of whom rose through the Academy of Light to be huge successes.