With the news surfacing that Elliot Embleton may have suffered a significant leg injury during his sending-off on Saturday, I began to ponder what this means about his Sunderland future. I mean, given the length of time he’s set to miss out, is it inconceivable to suggest that by the time he’s fit again that the club will have moved on, and that he might not actually play for us again?
First and foremost, whatever the injury is, I wish Embo nothing but the best and a swift recovery. It’s always tough to watch a player be carried off the pitch in the way Embleton was this weekend. To add insult to injury, literally, Embleton was shown a questionable straight red card as he lie prostrate on the medical stretcher.
Contemplating the idea of Embo having played his last game for his childhood club surely doesn’t negate the fondness and affection I have for him. He’s one of our own, he’s scored some absolutely beautiful goals, and he cemented himself into the club’s history with his winner at Wembley in the promotion final last spring.
All that said, with an injury as significant as he seems to be, he runs the risk, at minimum, of becoming a forgotten figure during his recovery and rehabilitation. To add to Embleton’s selection conundrum, he plays a position where Sunderland have replacements in spades.
The academy graduate has never really tied down a permanent position at the club.
However, his most successful spells have come when he plays centrally and high up the pitch, with the freedom to drive at opponents and less responsibility to track back.
Once or twice he’s had a decent performance out wide on the left. Two positions we have well covered.
In his absence, the likes of Roberts, Ba, Michut, and Pritchard (when back fit) will be champing at the bit to claim the number 10 role.
While Clarke, Amad, Bennette, Roberts, and Dajaku are in a tight battle out wide and Jack Diamond could even be pushing for time whenever he returns from his loan spell at Lincoln.
This logjam also doesn’t account for the possibility of fresh faces coming in during the January window or even next summer.
I also, unfortunately for him, don’t think the team loses much in Embleton’s absence. The players we have to replace him have equal to or greater attributes in the areas that make Elliot a valuable player to the team.
Creativity can be matched by players like Roberts, Ba, and Micut although we haven’t seen much of him yet. Pace was never really Embo’s strong suit, most of his replacements will best him in that department. His goal-scoring threat might be the most missed, but with Ross Stewart back into the fold, that may not be missed as much either.
Gruesome injuries are hard to come back from physically. Getting back up to first-team speed will be a long and strenuous process for Elliot Embleton. And getting back into the team once he’s healthy may be more than he can overcome.
I hope I’m wrong, because he’s one of my favorite players, but if his injury keeps him out for an extended period, I fear we may not see Elliot Embleton in a Sunderland shirt again.