Joseph Tulip says...
For years I have been frustrated with our inability to make the most of our younger players. A few exceptions aside, we’ve not given them game time, sent them out on loan, or let them leave the club.
It was obvious early last season that Embleton was at least on par with our other midfielders, yet we allowed him to be part of another League One side’s promotion campaign. I could go on, but with Embo back at the club he should be a key part of Lee Johnson’s plans for the season ahead.
This will be a key season for Jack Diamond. The winger has bags of pace and ability but hopefully he can find the consistency to grow and mature into a first team regular. I’d like to see more of Younger who didn’t look out of place in his limited appearances last season, especially in his preferred position of centre half, and there are others who have been rated highly for their performances in the U23s.
It would be nice to see more of Anthony Pattinson, after the young keeper penned a new contract, there’s no reason why he can’t be our number two keeper pushing for the shirt in the coming season.
For me the club must have a positive approach to young players. If they show promise and look good enough (ie Embleton last season), give them a chance. Let’s not leave them to stagnate or if we do send them out on loan, let’s not do that to benefit rival teams (i.e. Blackpool last season).
Malc Dugdale says...
I’d love to see Dan Neil really have a go in pre-season and show the coach he is ready to take one of the vacant slots in midfield.
We are about to let a lot of deadwood go in midfield at the end of June, and we are yet to bring anyone in through our new data-based recruitment approach. Dan should therefore have a good chance of starting, and proving he has learned and grown from his run-outs last season.
On the occasions he played last season he proved he is very comfortable and confident on the ball, has a great eye for a clinical pass, and can link up well between attack and defence.
If we have a ready-made option in the under 23s then by all means add to the squad for depth, but why not let him have a chance to shine? He has the talent to do well at this and higher levels, the only question will be: does he grab the chance and get a run in the side, or does he go out on loan as Embo did last time? I hope he gets a pop and grabs it with both hands as he has a bright future, hopefully in red and white.
Gary Engel says...
Last pre-season didn’t have many signings to really cheer about at this stage under the Parkinson era. For someone not prepared to turn to youth, there was a degree of excitement surrounding the acquisition of defender Arbenit Xhemajli.
After some promising signs and positive talk about the young brick wall defender only for injury to end his season before it had really begun.
Much of the media spin this summer has been regarding a possible return for the Rolls Royce of League One, Dion Sanderson.
But then, with a good pre-season behind him and if Johnson’s excitement about working with Xhemajli is anything to go by, should Sunderland fail to complete, arguably the League 1 signing of the summer for Sanderson, then Xhemajli may do nicely. On the other hand, a backline including both Xhemajli and Sanderson could help create the youngest Sunderland backline since Micky Gray cemented his position at left back in Craddock’s breakthrough season.
So, I’m eager to see what Xhemajli truly has in his locker.