Behind door number #5 is... Owen Gamble!
18-year-old Owen Gamble moved to Sunderland in the summer of 2015 from Doncaster Rovers, and is a bright prospect after successfully making the conversion from attacking midfielder to composed full-back.
Although initially signing on in 2014 while still aged just fifteen, Gamble waited a year before moving to the North East and hasn’t looked back since.
Gamble is a Doncaster fan, and back in October, featured against former-club Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium in the Checkatrade Trophy for the U23s alongside first-team players such as Jack Rodwell, Brendan Galloway and Donald Love.
Despite making the move to right-back, Gamble featured in central midfield alongside Ethan Robson, playing 79 minutes as Doncaster came out 1-0 winners, subsequently dumping our second-string out of the tournament.
But just what type of player is Gamble?
As you’d expect from his conversion from attacking midfield, the youngster is an accomplished and composed full-back brimming with attacking intent. However, despite this he is known to have keen ability in both attack and defence, and has featured seven times for the U23 side in the Premier League 2 this season.
Gamble spoke to the club’s official website in May 2016 about making the transition from Doncaster:
It’s a different world up here, I had to learn quickly when I started because the first few months were quite tough when I moved up here, but I have worked hard, settled in well and I’m enjoying my time here.
The staff have set me up really well and from an educational point of view I come out of training and it’s only a five minute walk so that’s really helpful.
In my first year it was a struggle and I didn’t do my best but I feel as though I am picking myself up this year and I’m hoping to kick on next term.
I was getting pushed all the time at Donny and eventually broke into the youth team. I think in the end that’s what pushed Sunderland to come in and now I'm here.
I knew a few people who had been at academies before I started and that helped but I didn’t know too much, as before I trained three nights a week – Monday, Wednesday and Thursday – then used to play on a Sunday.
It was a busy schedule but I didn’t mind it at all because I was able to go and play football, and since I have turned full time it has been great and I have loved every second because all I want to do is play football.
After moving to Doncaster aged just thirteen, and then again to the North East less than three years later it is clear Gamble has lofty ambitions, and judging by some of his hard-working performances on the pitch, and comments off it, he is determined to do anything necessary to succeed.
It seems at this point that Gamble is still some distance away from even being in contention for a first-team spot, but his versatility, attitude and willingness is clearly a key asset to have in the academy.
Still just in his third year as an academy scholar, Gamble has yet to have signed a professional contract with the club, and as such he will be one of a host of many under consideration for renewal in May. Here’s hoping he continues to progress well in whichever role the club sees fit to utilise him in, and can be rewarded with that professional deal at the end of the season.