Can Benji Kimpioka become a first team regular next season if he stays at Sunderland?
Gary Engel says...
Benji Kimpioka is still a very unknown quantity, he is in the same bracket as so many other academy prospects - ‘showing potential’. He is a young lad with some pace, which has worryingly been lacking and not been addressed over the last few seasons.
If that means Kimpioka will play more of an impact role from the bench rather than that of a regular starter only time will tell. There is also the fact that the jury is still out on Parkinson in terms of how likely he is to trust in youth, which may become a necessity over time.
What I want to see in the coming months, whoever the owners may be, is that we’ve learned our lesson from recent experiences. No cashing in on any genuine young talent and utilise the academy players where possible are surely targets for owners of any football club.
It might only take one breakthrough player to fire up other prospects to worker harder to make the grade, which could include Kimpioka. Personally, I think we’ll struggle for years to come without employing the Academy of Light to its full potential. That would be an opportunity wasted - a grave mistake!
Malcolm Dugdale says...
One of the big lessons of last season for Parkinson has to be that he has one of the biggest squads in this league and he isn’t effectively using it to give us an advantage over smaller squads. For me that includes trying the top third of the youth collective, at least from the bench and Benji Kimpioka is in that top bracket of youngsters at the club in terms of talent and potential and has been for a while.
Another key lesson for me is to have strategic variations ready for when a team work out our approach, and we cannot break through them as they park the bus or double mark key players.
There are some decent defensive teams in this league and we need to be able to switch tactics mid-game to gain an upper hand or to claw a goal back to get us back into a game. We don’t do that by having different skills and qualities on the bench.
If a Maguire or a Gooch is having a less stellar day, which will always happen at times in this league, we don’t change our tack and try something different. And we should have more options than anyone.
I agree with many that Benji is raw, but he won’t learn by getting thumped every week as happen in the U23 games he played in last season. His rawness and unpredictability are assets as well as flaws. I say give him a good run from the bench, make him part of a plan B, and tell him a starting slot is his, if he earns it.
Sometimes, the carrot on the end of the stick brings out stars of the future. Stars don’t shine very bright in the second team, nor by being stuck to the bench unused apart from 3 minute cameos when a game is already over.
Give him a go, he could be the difference. If not, let’s at least try to find out he isn’t up to it properly, and then we can make a clear decision on his future
Martin Wanless says...
In a world in which Sunderland are a League One team and Charlie Wyke is our first choice striker, then Benji Kimpioka absolutely has a chance of establishing himself in the first team next season.
Usually, when you’re looking at young players to promote into the first team, you’d hope for some stand out performances at under 23 level. Unfortunately, our youth teams are taking a battering every week – and while some may point to that as evidence the players aren’t good enough, that doesn’t necessarily mean some of the individuals don’t have promise.
Kimpioka is another player who’s been let down by the club’s lack of a pro-active approach to develop youth team players with a loan spell. A month or two at the likes of a Gateshead or Harrogate Town would have done wonders for him, but for whatever reason he’s not been given the opportunity.
He’s played a handful of games for us, primarily in the Checkatrade Trophy / Leasing.com Cup and overall has done pretty well. Some performances have been decent, others non eventful. But surely that’s what you expect from young players – consistency is developed over time.
His last-minute equaliser at home to Coventry showed he can handle – if not thrive in – some pressure at least. His subsequent exclusion under Parkinson was puzzling. Perhaps a Donald-influenced selection policy? Once bitten, twice shy and all that perhaps?
As raw as he is, he’s evidently got talent. He turned 20 years old in February, and has made three starts, appeared 11 times off the bench, and scored three goals. That’s not a shabby start to his career – especially given he’s never had anything resembling a run in the team.
He’s a versatile forward, he can play through the middle or out wide. That, coupled with his Paulo Wanchope-esque ability to do the unexpected would mean he’d be at least a regular on the bench in my team for next season. Given the rumoured salary cap rules that are due to be introduced this season, a 20 year old player who’s come through the ranks will be needed.
Let’s hope he’s still 20 by the time the new season starts.