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Sunderland loaning out young keeper to Oldham is a big risk if deal for Ruiter is not concluded

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Reports suggest Sunderland youngster Max Stryjek is on the verge of signing for Oldham on loan. But allowing the 21-year-old goalkeeper to exit the Stadium of Light right now without an extra pair of hands lined up between the sticks would be a big risk ahead of the season opener on Friday.

According to The Sun, League One side Oldham are near to completing a loan deal for young Sunderland goalkeeper Max Stryjek.

The Polish Under-21 international has yet to make his senior debut for the Black Cats, a club who have boasted strength between the sticks in recent years despite a perennial lack of class elsewhere on the pitch, and a loan spell and exposure to first team football is exactly what Stryjek needs right now to continue his development.

But the £30m sale of Jordan Pickford followed by Reading’s swoop for Vito Mannone have left Sunderland re-pondering their goalkeeping prospects as the Championship season commences this week.

Jason Steele arrived at the Stadium of Light last week in a £500,000 deal from Blackburn and was swiftly handed the No 1 jersey for the upcoming campaign and Dutch goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter completed a trial at Sunderland last week in which the 30-year-old impressed.

Jason Steele in goal yesterday
SAFC.com

But based on Steele’s first outing in a Sunderland shirt yesterday afternoon against Celtic, allowing Stryjek to depart without a deal for Ruiter confirmed would be an enormous risk with Derby visiting in five days time for the first Championship test of the season.

Both Blackburn and Middlesbrough fans have passed comment that after a promising start to his career, Steele appears to have suffered an increasing crisis of confidence which has hampered his progress.

And that was cruelly exposed on Saturday afternoon as Scottish champions Celtic breezed through a hapless Sunderland side in this summer’s final friendly, smacking five goals past an apparently rusty Jason Steele.

The 26-year-old stopper emerged into the Stadium of Light sunshine and produced a minor horror-show in front of his new home support.

Culpable for two of the Hoops goals, Steele was shaky between the sticks and after an early rotten start in which Celtic scored a fifth minute goal gifted by the home goalkeeper and his defence, Sunderland’s new signing was instantly put in a crisis mode he couldn’t deal with.

Steele did settle a little as the game went on and made a couple of saves but the 26-year-old still managed to hand Jonny Hayes a goal five minutes before half time.

Asked after the match, Sunderland boss Simon Grayson insisted the club have made former FC Utrecht keeper Ruiter a contract but should the Dutchman opt for one of the other offers he has reportedly received - most notably from Premier League Burnley - then allowing Stryjek to leave would be folly until another goalie is sourced.

FC Utrecht v NEC Nijmegen - Dutch Eredivisie
Robbin Ruiter saving a penalty playing for FC Utrecht
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

With the untested Mika as the only other senior goalkeeper at the club as understudy to Steele, Sunderland cannot afford to go into the first game of the Championship campaign on Friday with the untried Portuguese stopper and the unconvincing Newton Aycliffe lad as the choice to be made for the goalkeeping position.

Most will be hoping Ruiter does accept Sunderland’s offer. With a budget squad now assembled at the Stadium of Light as the season opener looms and severe restrictions placed on Grayson’s spending ability, the trialist roughly looks to have sufficient ability to be one of the few signings this summer who will actually add a touch of quality to the Black Cats first team.