Celtic boss Brendan Rodgers’ advice to Sunderland over ex-Liverpool protege Jerome Sinclair

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It marks a dramatic shift in Sunderland’s recruitment that Jerome Sinclair stands as the sole loanee in the current squad.

Max Power is technically on loan from Wigan Athletic but his permanent move in January is a mere formality.

Jerome Sinclair in action for Watford.

Jerome Sinclair in action for Watford.

Towards the end of last season, Sunderland were at their limit of five loanees in just about every matchday squad.

The club has made good use of that market on occasions in recent years (Marcos Alonso, Danny Welbeck, Danny Rose, Fabio Borini) but this was too much pressure on too many young players.

It was a difficult sight for supporters, too, watching a team dominated by players who, while committed to the cause, had an understandably limited investment in the club’s long-term direction.

No fan of the loan market, Ross has steered clear but in Sinclair, he sees a player with the hunger and ability to make a success of his time on Wearside.

Jerome Sinclair made his comeback against Stoke on Tuesday.

Jerome Sinclair made his comeback against Stoke on Tuesday.

“The loan market is interesting, my opinion as a manager has always been that you’ll get more misses than hits,” he said.

“I’ve always felt that way from my own experiences. I think that season-long loans are good, much better than shorter-term as you do then see them as your player.

“Then you have to look at where the player is at and where they’re going.

“Jerome I think is at the stage where he really needs to come here and show how good a player he is because of how things have gone for him in the last couple of years.”

Sinclair certainly seems like a player at a crossroads. He has been around for so long that is easy to forget he remains just 21.

Time is on his side but he is desperate for first-team football.

He hit the headlines when leaving Liverpool for Watford two years ago, Jurgen Klopp going public with his frustrations.

He was then the unfortunate focus of a deadline day documentary that focused on a failed move to Sheffield United.

Ross, however, spoke to the man who gave Sinclair his big break and was left in no doubt that he would be a good fit for his project.

So far Sinclair’s application and drive to get fit and make a real impact has proved him absolutely correct.

“I spoke to Brendan Rodgers at length about him because it was Brendan who gave him his debut at Liverpool,” he said.

“The way he spoke about him as a person and a character convinced me that he’d be a good fit here.

“He’s a really nice young man, bright, intelligent. He really enjoys being here.”

Ross was nervous as Sinclair made his return to action on Tuesday night.

The Black Cats boss had been through ‘the nicest possible stand-off’ with his medical staff, who felt it was early to throw the Watford loanee back into action.

Sinclair, however, looked sharp and brought some presence and intensity to an otherwise tepid game. His performance was one of the biggest positives from the game.

It is no exaggeration to say that he changed the game on his debut, adding pace and strength to a Sunderland frontline as they turned around a 1-0 deficit against Charlton Athletic.

Sinclair not only posed a goal threat of his own but helped bring players around him into the game.

After coming through his cameo against Stoke City unscathed, Sinclair will be involved against Fleetwood Town tomorrow and Ross is thrilled to have a player who adds a different dimension to his side back.

“He’s one of the few that we have that lengthens the game for us, and we’ll need that.

“His strength is good because he can hold players off and when you work with him every day, you see that his finishing is really good.

“He’s quite similar to Josh [Maja] in that he hits the target a lot and does it with real venom.

“If you look at his career history, for us it is about making him robust enough for the week in, week out because that’s not something he has ever really had. That’s probably why he is here with us on loan.

“From day one I really liked him,” he added.

“The loan ones can be a little more difficult but right from day one I liked his maturity and you get the sense that he really enjoys what we do on the training pitch.

“That injury was a frustrating one for him because I think he feels that this really is the right fit, to start moving upwards again because you can see that he’s got all the right attributes again.”

Sunderland supporters quite rightly take real pride in the achievements of Alonso, Rose and Welbeck.

They have gone off loan deals in recent years but perhaps Sinclair can be the man to show that in moderation, they can offer real reward.