Level: Senior Squad
Squad Number: 24
Experience : 4 senior games
Question : Should Dan have been promoted to the Senior Team?
Its early days yet, but I think most would agree he has been excellent and if his performance levels do not drop then he is more than capable at league one level and fully deserves his place. Some would say he has the potential to go even higher.
There in lies the question "What does the future hold for Dan Neil". If we take a step back then look from the outside and say he is not a Sunderland player, but an under 23 being loaned to us as part of his development.
In which case we would say his development is going very well and is on course with his current development plan, by the end of the season he will hopefully have met with all the aims and objectives set for him ready for the next step.
We have an idea how this usually works by using Dion Sanderson as an example model from just last season a successful loan at league one, is followed by a subsequent loan at championship level. We saw this with our own player in Pickford.
So, if Dan Neil continues as he has started then by the end of the season, he will be ready for the next step, the championship!
But will we ready?......suppose we do not get promoted?
As a loan player from outside the answer would be simple, he would get loaned to a new club in the championship and a big thank you sent to Sunderland for his development in league one. Then he would continue along his development path to who knows where.
But he is not, he is ours and he is in the senior squad. If we get promoted, then fine he can continue his development at championship level where he may or may not succeed. However, if we do not get promoted then this has big implications for Dan and indeed other players such as Embleton, who is currently in the same boat. Another season, or two or three in league One could stall or halt these players development altogether!
As we already have seen with Embleton, he had a successful Loan with Blackpool who would have happily kept him. In which case he would be playing Championship football now! He chose to stay with us, but if we fail to get promoted will he then come to regret that decision! Instead of being on an upward trajectory his career will have stalled or even taken a massive step back.
So, the two questions for Dan were "What does the future hold"? the answer is only time will tell but it does looks promising.
The second "should he have promoted to the senior squad"? I think so far on ability wise there is no doubt he can play at this level.
But maybe just maybe a wiser approach may have been to loan him from the Academy to the Senior Squad for the season? If we get promoted, then his loan could get extended a year and his development continued. If we did not get promoted, then he could be loaned to another club in the championship.
Yes, would lose a good player but by letting him continue his development we could possibly get back a far better one ready for the championship or premiership when we are!
It’s a case of weighing up the long term and short-term goals of the team and the long term and short-term goals of the player.
My point of view is if we let players fully develop, then that can only benefit the team and club in the long run with the young lads reaching their full potential no matter how high or low that maybe.
There is nothing sadder than "They could have been a contender!" lets try not to live a life full of regrets