Ellis Taylor opens up on his impressive Sunderland progress and the next steps he wants to take
When Sunderland settled on the cohort of youngsters who would be promoted to the senior ranks for pre-season, one name caught the eye.
For Ellis Taylor, the call was just reward for an excellent first full campaign in the U23 side, which culminated in a play-off final and a first professional contract.
The 18-year-old has made his mark.
There was an eye-catching display at Spennymoor Town, and perhaps even more impressive was his tenacious performance out of position against a strong Tranmere Rovers side.
"At the start of pre-season I got a text and was told I was going to be with the first team," Taylor explains.
"I was just absolutely buzzing and I couldn't wait for it to start.
"Tonight, I absolutely love it. It's a great experience playing in front of fans. It's a great stadium and they're a good side.
"I was delighted to be involved and to get 80 or 85 minutes or whatever it was. I'm absolutely buzzing.
"My family had the game on tonight and hopefully they're impressed. I'll have a check on my phone and I might have a few texts on my phone from my dad.
"I've started and settled in well by getting to know the lads. I'm really enjoying it and I can't wait to keep on playing games and hopefully get in front of the Stadium of Light with a packed ground. That's the aim this season."
That versatility, which has been a feature of Taylor's rise through Hartlepool and Sunderland was on show at Prenton Park as he moved from right wing back to left back.
It's one of the key reasons he made such an impression on staff last year, and on Lee Johnson of late.
"First-half I was right wing and there was little bits and bobs where I was getting inside on the ball - there were a few times where I was able to put some crosses in, but the gaffer changed it and put me at left-back," he explains.
"I played a lot of last season inverted on the right wing - as I started today - but I also played a few games for the Under-23's when I first started at left-wing back and left-back. I don't mind either way.
"Wherever I'm put, I'll put a shift in and work my socks off for the team. It's good to have versatility in your game because if it's not working in one place and the gaffer needs to change it and he can rely on you, you're not going to get subbed off.
As Taylor looks to take the next step over the next year, he knows he has the perfect example in Dan Neil.
"I feel like with Dan he had an excellent pre-season last year and when he came back to the Under-23's he came and bossed it - he was one of our best players and helped up get to where we were," he said.
"This year I feel I've got to keep playing and playing well. Hopefully I can keep knocking on the gaffers door to see if he'll put me in and if he gives me the chance I'll make sure I take it.
"I'm going to keep working hard and see where that gets me."