Houghton-le-Spring born Ethan Robson has struggled for fitness in the early part of a season in which he may have thought opportunities would have been more forthcoming, given the drop in level from the Championship.
The 21-year-old impressed in the recent Checkatrade Trophy game against Carlisle, grabbing the Lads’ second goal of the game in a rather controlled performance; however, his night was cut short with yet another frustrating injury.
With a total of six league starts to his name - all of which came in the 2017/2018 Championship season - it is fair to say that despite his evident quality, this lad needs more experience in men’s football, but I’m not sure that we can offer him that on his return from yet another injury.
The performances of Lee Cattermole, Dylan McGeouch and Max Power, as well as the emergence of Luke O’Nien leaves a rather unfortunate Robson rapidly sliding down the pecking order. A loan move to a club in League One or Two would be the most likely, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that, if kept fit, he could be a vital component of a lower league midfield.
Jack Diamond is probably the least known player on this list with his only senior appearance coming at the end of the aforementioned Carlisle game. The 18-year-old forward impressed in his short cameo, adding much needed energy to the somewhat dull latter stages of the match.
Although the game was decided by the time he came on, there were promising signs that the lad, who once plied his trade only on the indoor futsal court, could perform in the men’s game. The technical ability gained from this background in the 5v5 format was evident to see as he skipped past the tiring League Two defenders on multiple occasions.
Like Luke Molyneux, Diamond could be of use to a National League side to afford him every chance of game time - similar to the early careers of Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman.
Denver Hume has been particularly impressive whenever he has been given a chance in the first team this season, being awarded man of the match on a couple of occasions already. But I can’t help but think that we have too many more than capable bodies sat in that position of the left side of the defence.
Reece James and Bryan Oviedo offer very different skill sets with the former looking defensively more solid than the attacking Costa Rican full back. With the League One experience of James and the clear quality that Ovideo possesses, it may be difficult for young Denver to get back into the team after the injury he suffered early in the game at Coventry.
Any deal that involves Hume leaving on loan will certainly hinge on the future of Oviedo - one of the high earners still at the club. While his attitude to the cause has been apparently exemplary, Stewart Donald and co. as well as the player himself will more than likely hope to fashion a deal which sees the former Everton man leave the club.
Our youngest ever captain: Bali Mumba. Just to make you feel old, the England Under-18 international was born in 2001! While Mumba seems to fit in perfectly in the current upbeat nature of the club, I can’t help but see this as an opportunity to right some of the wrongs made with our young players in the past.
On numerous occasions, we have players reaching the ages of 22 or 23 having experienced very little in the professional game. Mumba has a real opportunity to get a boatload of experience by the time he turns 20, and January is the earliest opportunity.
Whether the young midfielder is a serious part of Jack Ross’ plans this season is reasonably unclear, on eight occasions being an unused substitute. As he seems to be always in and around the squad, maybe a short-term loan deal could be vital to improve his understanding of the game.
Jack Ross has involved Kimpioka maybe slightly more than he anticipated when coming into the job this Summer after injuries to Jerome Sinclair and Charlie Wyke left the squad light in central attacking positions.
Come January though, those two should be available alongside the prolific Josh Maja, and Ross’ preferred formation only utilises the one striker, leaving Benji as fourth choice.
This lad has showed us he has bags of potential and the work rate to match with a standout performance against Carlisle and a couple of other good performances from the bench so far this season.
Maybe a short-term loan similar to Mumba would be the best option as we head towards the gruelling latter stages of the season? Get the boy a few goals under his belt at any level and his confidence will rocket upon his return.