The 11 Sunderland loan stars who can provide Ethan Robson with some motivation as he impresses at Grimsby Town

With Ethan Robson the latest Sunderland player earning warm reviews away on loan, the value of young players leaving the Stadium of Light to gain first-team experience is clear.

Saturday, 12th October 2019, 12:00 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th October 2019, 12:00 pm
The ex-Sunderland players Ethan Robson can look to for motivation

But just how often has a Black Cats player – or Sunderland themselves - reaped the benefits of swapping reserve or junior team football on Wearside for a baptism in senior football elsewhere? Here are 11 Sunderland players for whom life after being borrowed was anything but blue. Scroll down click through the pages to find out who Ethan Robson can look to for some motivation:

The shining example of how the loan system can benefit a young player, Sunderland academy graduate Pickford moved through several tiers of English football during temporary moves away between 2012 and 2014. Pickford went on to break through at the Stadium of Light as a regular under David Moyes and shone despite a torrid season that saw Sunderland’s 10-year stay in the Premier League come to an end.
Another academy graduate, Henderson made huge strides while on loan at Coventry City in 2009. After returning from an injury that cut that spell short, Henderson went on to more than just hold down a first-team place under Steve Bruce. Henderson was named Sunderland’s Young Player of the Season in 2011 before leaving for Liverpool in a near-£20m deal. Now captain after battling to establish himself at Anfield, Henderson has lifted the Champions League and won 53 England caps.

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At Sunderland’s academy from the age of eight, Waghorn made his first-team debut against Manchester United at 17, but was then loaned out to Charlton and – more successfully – Leicester. With his 12 goals in 2009-10 having helped Leicester into the Championship play-offs, Waghorn joined the Foxes permanently. And after a few lean years, Waghorn’s career was revived by a move to Rangers in 2015, where he scored 27 goals in 57 games, and successful spells at Ipswich and Derby have followed.
A player who divided opinions among Sunderland fans, Colback enjoyed a successful loan at Ipswich, where he was named Players’ Player of the Year in 2009-10. Having then broken in to the Sunderland first team, Colback proved a versatile performer, playing at Wembley under Gus Poyet and famously scoring against Newcastle at St James’s Park. But that made his next move – to Newcastle as a free agent, in 2013-14 – a huge surprise. To the delight of many Sunderland fans, Colback’s career – after a promising start – at St James’s Park has nosedived.
A Sunderland boy through and through, Leadbitter impressed briefly on loan at Rotherham in 2005 before returning to the Stadium of Light and earning regular first-team football. After winning promotion under Roy Keane, Leadbitter became a Premier League first-team regular under the Irishman, and scored a memorable long-range goal against Arsenal, which he celebrated by running to the spot at the Stadium of Light where his late father’s ashes had recently been spread. Although a £2.6m move to Ipswich in 2009 was a wrench, Leadbitter became a fans’ favourite at Portman Road, before also impressing at Middlesbrough ahead of his return to Sunderland in January 2019.
A hotly tipped product of Sunderland’s academy. Embleton starred for England’s age group sides before getting a first sustained taste of senior football at League Two Grimsby in a loan spell last season which was extended to last the entire campaign. Having impressed greatly at Blundell Park, Embleton returned to Sunderland, and signed a new two-year contract, with many fans hoping to see his creative talents feature regularly in League One this season.
Kyle first broke into Sunderland’s first-team picture in 2000, but had to go on loan to Huddersfield Town, Darlington, and Rochdale before truly establishing himself on Wearside and breaking into the Scotland international squad. After 17 goals from 91 appearances – and one famous disallowed goal against Newcastle – the brawny Scot left for Coventry City, and then Wolves and Rangers among others, but only enjoyed real later career success at Kilmarnock.
The development of the pacy former Altrincham winger following his arrival at Sunderland in 2013 was hastened by a decent temporary spell at Hibernian the following year. Watmore returned from Hibs with enough confidence to break into the first-team picture at the Stadium of Light and earn England U21 honours in 2015. But recent seasons have seen Watmore endure a nightmare run of injuries, including a repeat cruciate ligament tear, to stunt his progress.
After impressing in a nine-game loan spell at Gateshead in autumn 2015, Honeyman took a while to truly establish himself at the Stadium of Light, appearing in the final game of that Premier League season and making a handful of top-flight outings in the 2016-17 relegation campaign. But the midfielder was one of very few players to emerge with any credit as Sunderland then dropped straight out of the Championship, and was named as club captain for the 2018-19 League One season. After the League One play-off final heartache, Honeyman left for Hull this summer in a £400,000 deal.
Matthews arrived at Sunderland in 2015 with decent pedigree at Cardiff and Celtic, but struggled to make any Premier League impact at the Stadium of Light. But two loan spells loan spells at Bristol City seemed to invigorate the Welshman, and he became a first-team regular under Chris Coleman after returning to Wearside. After failing to help Sunderland get out of League One last season, Matthews was released, but has landed on his feet at their promotion play-off conquerors Charlton.
Striker Murphy arrived at Sunderland in 2005 after a prolific spell with Irish side Waterford, but only began to impress for the Black Cats after a four-game loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday. Having become a regular and played 110 games, scoring 14 times, across a five-year spell on Wearside, Murphy left for Celtic and then Ipswich, was surprisingly signed by Rafa Benitez for Newcastle in 2016, and then played for Nottingham Forest before pitching up at League One strugglers Bolton last month.