Bognor Regis Town midfielder Tommy Block will finally get his chance to impress the staff at the Academy of Light when he travels to Sunderland for a trial next week.
The 18-year-old was due on Wearside last month but has had to wait for his chance to stake a claim to make it in the professional game - a dream he has harboured since being released by Brighton.
Block told the Bognor News that the chance to show the Sunderland coaching staff what he can do is a great opportunity:
It’s my dream to become a professional footballer and I am following that dream. I was devastated when I was released by Brighton aged 16, having been there since the age of 11. I won’t lie, it was a big big blow.
But I got my head down and then got my chance with Bognor and I absolutely love the club. I’ve managed to establish myself a little bit and have played 20-odd games for the Rocks now.
Block was linked with a move to Sheffield United and League Two Stevenage in the summer and is said to have been watched by representatives of Sunderland as well as Bristol City in recent weeks.
The youngster - who was with Brighton’s youth-setup before spells with Havant & Waterlooville and Chichester City - has been identified by various non-league observers as “one to watch”.
Bognor are struggling at the foot of the Vanarama National League South and have won just three times all season, but Block intends helping his side out if he isn’t offered terms with the Black Cats:
As much as I want to succeed at Sunderland I know that if I don’t, hopefully, I can come back to Bognor and redouble my efforts to help get us out of the relegation position we find ourselves in.
I’ll do my best at Sunderland and hope it is enough for them to take it further. Either way I can’t lose because it will be a fantastic experience.
Bognor boss Jack Pearce recently admitted he faces a struggle to keep hold of Block with interest from sides in the Championship:
If he continues to play like he has, and develops to his potential then, as you would expect, bigger clubs will be looking at him. That is a just a matter of fact for a club at our level.
The youngster is currently a student at Havant & South Downs College.