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QUICK KICKS: Sunderland forward Benji Kimpioka is becoming impossible for Jack Ross to ignore

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In our post-Pools edition of Quick Kicks we analyse the key talking points following yesterday afternoon’s draw at Victoria Park. Is Benji Kimpioka now a serious contender for a place in the first-team squad for next season?

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Kimpioka proving why he should be involved

Eight goals in four pre-season games is an incredibly impressive haul - one that should mean that young forward Benji Kimpioka remains in the thoughts of first-team manager Jack Ross.

He saved our skins yesterday with a late strike to clinch the draw, and even before that he produced the moment of the game when he turned two Hartlepool defenders inside out in their own box, wowing the 2200 Sunderland supporters in attendance.

The reason he was in the squad yesterday was because he’s become impossible to ignore - the seven goals he’s scored already for our U23s in pre-season has earned him the chance to impress, and yesterday he did just that in the short amount of time that he was on the field.

Kimpioka was impressive for our U18s last year and he’s really making impressive strides forward. He’s got power, pace and doesn’t shy away from taking a shot on - showing the experienced players exactly how it’s done with his goal yesterday afternoon.

For me, he has to stay in contention for the time being. Keep it up, Benji.

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Worrying lack of athleticism on show

Nobody reading this needs to be told this, but Sunderland’s squad is badly lacking in pace, height and strength - and it showed in a game which, in truth, we should have dominated.

The introduction of several more athletic players in the later stages was what turned the tide for us in the game. In bringing on Benji Kimpioka, Luke Molyneux, Bali Mumba, Chris Maguire and Ethan Robson we just looked far more energetic and the ball moved quicker.

The problem is though that we cannot rely on the kids to provide that impetus every week in League One. The club know this though, and over the coming week we’ll have more players through the door - key players in key positions that can really improve us and lift the pool of players that Jack Ross has to select from up a notch or two.

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The sooner Cattermole goes, the better

It wasn’t just this performance, but pretty much every performance he’s given over the last eighteen months or so - Lee Cattermole and Sunderland is a relationship nearing its natural end.

Rumours swirled on social media during the half-time break that Cattermole remarked to fans asking him to leave that he’d love to go, and if that is indeed the case it probably explains why he played like a man who just doesn’t want to be here.

All of the attributes that made Cattermole effective in years gone by seem to have disappeared - he’s not intense, he doesn’t try and close people down, he’s not particularly ambitious with his passing anymore and he just doesn’t add anything to any team he plays in these days. And again, I must stress I’m not just talking about this performance - it’s been the case for years.

Here’s hoping that he’s out of the door before the transfer window closes - but my gut feeling is that we’ll struggle to find someone daft enough to not only take him off our hands but also pay his vastly inflated wage packet.