STEVE Bruce will hold talks with Sunderland’s coaching staff next week to discuss the future of teen prospect Louis Laing.
The Sunderland boss admits Laing has been the big success story of the club’s pre-season tour of Germany, with the 18-year-old making his first start for the Black Cats in Wednesday’s defeat to Bundesliga high-fliers Hannover 96.
England U19 international Laing had been expected to spend the season out on loan after impressing both at reserve and youth team level last year.
But with Sunderland due to return home tonight after their final tour game against Borussia Monchengladbach, which ended goalless, Bruce has already pencilled in discussions with academy manager Ged McNamee and reserve team coach Keith Bertschin.
Bruce believes Laing’s development will be best served by continuing to train with the first-team squad after the teenager made his Premier League debut as a late substitute in the final home game of last season against Wolves.
“I suppose the one whose grabbed everybody is Louis Laing,” Bruce told the Echo.
“He’s done very well and he’s got an outstanding future.
“I’ll speak to Ged and Bertsch when we get back.
“But I think he’ll stay with us in or around the first-team squad.
“He’s done that well and it’s brought him on has playing with the better players.
“The academy have done some good stuff at this club, they’ve done really well.
“I’m always a believer that if they’re good enough, I’ll give them a shot. A good young player is important to have around.
“He played against Hannover as if he had 100 games under his belt – he was terrific.
“He’s very comfortable on the ball and a really good passer. If you like, he’s the modern-day centre-back as well, because he’s quick.
“Now, we just need to work on the defensive side of things. There’s still a bit of work to be done there.
“But overall, he can be very pleased with what he’s done. He’s come with the first-team squad and done very well.”
Bruce admits Laing may be sent on loan in the second half of the season – following in the footsteps of Jordan Henderson and Jack Colback, who both prospered during temporary spells in the Championship.
The Sunderland boss also expects the likes of Blair Adams, Ryan Noble and Billy Knott – all in America with the England squad ahead of the U20 World Cup – to go out on loan.
Bruce added: “The ones who’ve gone away with England U20 could be away for five weeks, so we’ll see how they are when they get back.
“But I’m a big believer that when they get to the right age, they should be going out to play and find their feet.
“It’s done Jack no harm and did Jordan Henderson no harm.
“Eventually, it will probably happen to Louis that he can go and play.
“Maybe by Christmas, we’ll look at that and see if we can blood him somewhere.”