Callum McManaman’s Sunderland career may not have ignited, but Chris Coleman believes he can be a crucial player under his management.
McManaman returned to the starting XI at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday after Lynden Gooch picked up an injury during the 1-1 draw with Norwich.
It proved to be a frustrating afternoon for the 26-year-old who regularly beat his man, but found himself just unable to find the crucial final touch.
McManaman has had a stop-start season since arriving on deadline day last August.
Injuries and suspensions have curtailed his progress, but Coleman insists he is the kind of player he wants to keep around going forward.
“He is a really good lad, he hasn’t always started, but nevertheless his attitude in training is first class, he always wants the team to do well,” Coleman said.
“He has a genuine love for the game, he wants to play football, I was pleased for him.
“It is hard to play in that position when you haven’t had so many games, there’s a lot of running, he affected the game for us.
“For what we want to build, it is mentalities like his, more and more of that.”
McManaman has one year left on his current deal and like those signed in the aftermath of Sunderland’s relegation to the championship, his wages will drop should the Black Cats fall into the third tier.
Chris Coleman’s switch to a 4-3-3 in recent weeks has created competition for starting places, with Gooch and Joel Asoro also impressing in their appearances on the right flank.
Coleman believes that he has a group of players already in the squad who could be the starting point for a competitive squad next season.
He said: “There is a good nucleus of good young players we can build around too. Of course you need some experience too.
“It was a shame for Lynden Gooch to miss out (at Reading), he has been outstanding, his injury against Norwich kept him out, there are some good young players here.”