RR: So then, Trai Hume - not many if any Sunderland fans will have seen this lad play. Is he any good?
Steven: Trai Hume is a 19-year-old right back who can also play in right midfield or at centre back, but has excelled in the Irish League in a full-back role over the last couple of years. He’s already an established Northern Ireland Under-21 international and yes he is a very good young player. He’s very much your modern day full-back who loves to get forward. He has shown at Irish League level he can score and assist and isn’t afraid of getting stuck in and performing his defensive duties. He has fantastic potential.
RR: We’ve struggled for right backs all season, so there may be a requirement for Hume to come straight in and play. As he’s still a teenager, do you think he has what it takes to play straight away in League One?
Steven: First and foremost any young player has to settle in to a new club and that will be the case for Trai. It’s obviously a jump from Irish League level to League One but Trai Hume will have belief in himself which is key. Shayne Lavery left Linfield for Blackpool in the summer and was a hit in the Championship straight away so Trai can take heart from that. Give him time though... He is 19 after all and still has much to learn.
RR: What kind of full back is he? Sunderland play a number of different systems, but in all of them, the full backs are expected to join in with the attacks…
Steven: Trai is an attacking full-back. As previously stated he likes to surge forward and get crosses in. He also has an eye for goal and this season scored in derbies home and away against Glentoran. He can also defend and will improve in that aspect as he gains more experience.
RR: Whilst we don’t know much about the lad, most of the hype we’ve seen from fans in Northern Ireland tells us that he’s well thought of. Why do you think he’s been able to capture the attention of folk so much so early?
Steven: A teenager playing for Linfield is always viewed as a big thing in the Irish League as the demands are intense. Basically Linfield have to win every game otherwise there tends to be an inquest. The pressure and heat is on, but Trai Hume has coped admirably with that and thrived. Previously he was on loan at Ballymena United and impressed there but has come on leaps and bounds this season. The Linfield manager David Healy, formerly a Sunderland player, deserves immense credit for that.
RR: Do you think £200k is a fair fee for Linfield to receive? And how much would that amount of money mean to them in terms of further strengthening their own squad?
Steven: I think a fee of 200k would be fair to all parties. Linfield will use the money to invest in new players themselves and if Hume progresses as everyone in Northern Ireland feels he can it will be a bargain for Sunderland.
RR: Just how far do you think this lad can go?
Steven: I believe Trai can become a senior Northern Ireland International. I also feel he has the talent and temperament to do well at Sunderland. When a young kid moves to a new club and a new country you are hoping they settle in well and are treated well by those around them in order to flourish. I’m sure with the way things are now at Sunderland that will happen and I look forward to a bright future for Trai.
RR: In terms of weaknesses, what areas of his game do you think need the most work?
Steven: Well he’s still a teenager so he will know himself there’s plenty of improvement to come in his game. He’ll have to get used to his new club, new surroundings, new teammates and new style of play. Sunderland are a fantastic club for a talented young lad to sign for. From afar they finally look to be on the up, making shrewd signings and they have a magnificent fan base. For sure Trai Hume will give them total commitment when he pulls on the famous red and white.
RR: If there are any Sunderland fans out there who aren’t too sure about this piece of business, what would you say to them?
Steven: I would say give the lad a chance. Over the years Sunderland have had some fine Northern Ireland players and with Trai Hume coming in the connection strengthens. Right now Corry Evans, Tom Flanagan and Carl Winchester are doing well for the club and I’m sure they will help Trai in those important early months. Trai has a good family and good people looking after him and will want to be the best he can be. He’s also there to help Sunderland so give him a chance, give him time and in turn I’m sure he’ll give everything he has got. In the unpredictable world we live in there are few things you can be sure about but this could turn out to be an inspired move for all.