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Roker Roundtable: Can Jack Diamond become a first-team regular for Sunderland next season?

The young winger enjoyed a stellar season on loan at Harrogate, but can he force his way into Alex Neil’s thinking for next season?

Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Malc Dugdale says…

Bring him back and give him a go until Christmas. That’s my view, and if he still needs development around December, we can loan him out again then.

Loans are great for allowing younger players to learn, develop and grow. For me, Jack didn’t have a hell of a lot to do to be ready for first-team football, but he clearly did well at Harrogate last season, and will no doubt have improved what he can bring to the team.

In some ways, it is more of a challenge for Jack now that we have gone up, but players with raw skill and pace are more likely to succeed in our new division than our old one.

Let’s get him some minutes in the first half of 2022/23, and see how he does. If we didn’t do that with Patterson after his short but very successful loan spell at Notts County, he wouldn’t have been the young hero he was at Wembley, would he?

We have nothing to lose by letting him demonstrate whether he is ready, from the bench initially if required. With Aiden McGeady gone, there is a berth for a wide man too, and I’d rather give him a go than take a punt on an unknown signing, at least for four to five months.

Show us what you’ve got Jack. Others have grabbed their chance of late, and you can too.

Harrogate Town v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Phil West says…

I like Diamond a lot, and I do feel that he has something to offer. The question is whether he can force his way into what is undoubtedly a crowded area of the squad, and whether he has managed to iron out the weaknesses in his game that were visible the last time he saw first-team action for us.

Assuming we can secure Patrick Roberts on a longer contract – and with Leon Dajaku also retained and a move for Jack Clarke potentially in the works – Diamond will have some work to do if he wants to stake a claim for next season, but I’m convinced that Alex Neil will offer every player a fair chance to impress him during pre-season.

Diamond’s qualities – pace, and skill on the ball – could be crucial in the Championship, where games can often be more open and free-flowing than a division below, and he will doubtless be eager to show Neil what he has to offer when pre-season training begins.

There is no doubt that stepping up from League Two to the Championship would be a tall order for Diamond, but by all accounts he made a very positive impression at Harrogate and has been spoken of in glowing terms by their management.

On the other hand, it may well be that the best option for Diamond is to move to a League One club on loan, in order to further his development and ensure that he is not set back by being pitched into the second tier before he is ready.

I would love to see him take his chance when it comes, but time will tell!

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Martin Wanless says...

To be brutally honest, I don’t think he can – but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a future at Sunderland. He’s evidently done very well at Harrogate this season, and I like him as a player, but I suspect we’ll be looking for more in the short term.

Hopefully, Patrick Roberts and Jack Clarke stay on, and we can also strengthen our forward area with players we’re certain can make an immediate impact.

For me, Diamond doesn’t fall into that category - yet.

He’s spent the season playing at a decent level, but the step up from League Two to the Championship is huge, and Diamond’s a player who hasn’t shone for us in League One.

He’s only young, however, and I think he has a hell of a lot of potential – so a loan move to a (preferably big) League One club that’s going to be challenging for promotion would be the next logical move for him.

I think if we keep him at Sunderland next season he’ll be on the periphery all season, and this will be detrimental to his development. Even keeping him till Christmas would be a waste of six months of his career, in my view.

Get him back out on loan to a good League One club, and hopefully, we’ll reap the benefit in a year or two’s time. Young players aren’t the ‘finished article’ when they emerge, and many people are far too quick to write youngsters off. Let’s invest some more in his individual development this season, because there could be a hell of a player in there.

Northampton Town v Harrogate Town - Sky Bet League Two
Diamond has done well at Harrogate – but does that mean he’s now capable of performing in the Championship?
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

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