Since Denver Hume made his debut for Sunderland three months ahead of his twentieth birthday, he has developed into an integral part of not only the first team but also to the way we currently operate under manager Phil Parkinson.
Having joined the Academy of Light at the age of 10, replacing Bryan Oviedo with twenty minutes remaining on the final day of the 2017-18 season at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers was a proud moment for the Northumberland-born full-back. His debut (and the fact Sunderland would possibly lean more on academy recruits after relegation to League One) was seen as a platform upon which Hume could further his progress the following season.
This progress however did not materialise at the speed that the attacking full-back would have hoped; competition from not only Bryan Oviedo, but now also Reece James - who was a summer acquisition from Wigan Athletic - meant that first-team appearances would be hard to come by, but Jack Ross showed enough faith in Hume and by the end of September he had four more appearances to his name.
Whilst building some momentum to his Sunderland career, making the starting XI for the second time in a row at Coventry City at the end of September, he would suffer the reoccurrence of a knee injury which kept him out for a couple of months and, consequently, Denver found it hard to rediscover that momentum. Hume would only make another four appearances in the Sunderland starting XI before the end of the season.
It was clear from those handfuls of appearances the potential that Denver Hume had and - with Bryan Oviedo and Reece James soon leaving the club - the path was clear to become a firm fixture on the left-hand side of Jack Ross’ Sunderland side. It’s very easy to forget that the current season is Denver Hume’s first as a fully established member of the Sunderland first-team where he is now clearly regarded as the first-choice left-back.
In the early part of the current season, the 21-year-old did receive criticism for the defensive side of his game, but with only a handful of appearances accumulated hitherto the start of the 2019/20 campaign, it was understandable to assume that it would take time for aspects of his game to catch up with the magnitude of the stage he was now playing his football on.
This especially considering football is very different to what it was in years gone, where the current trend means it takes young players much longer to experience consistent game time for a single club in the football league; many clubs has instead elected to utilise the strategy of loaning players out to a multitude of clubs of varying levels on the pyramid, as Sunderland have over the last decade.
Hume is a very full-back executing an offensive role in a relatively new 5-3-2 formation which focuses on wing play. This style occasionally led to him falling to the hazard of being caught out in defensive scenarios in the early part of the season, most issues being positioning errors inevitable for players who are learning their trade.
Recently, he has received criticism for his final ball but the longer this season has played out the more visible the change has been in the defender’s confidence. An important part of this progress was the change in manager and resultant change in system which has allowed Hume to flourish. Being currently deployed as a wing-back, with the three central defenders behind him, offers the physical and creative freedom that suits his natural game.
Denver Hume is improving with every game; various pundits have tipped him for the very top with a future that includes the Premier League. However, despite turning 22-years-old this summer, he is still refining the fundamentals of his role. He will soon reach the milestone of fifty first team appearances and in his first full season is proving to be integral to our hopes of promotion this season.
There lies a potential to play at a higher level than lowly League One – let’s hope this is with Sunderland.