How Sunderland's U23 squad is being revamped as Lee Johnson runs rule over last season's stars
Sunderland's U23 squad is in the process of being strengthened as a number of last season's successful stride make the step up to first-team level.
Lee Johnson welcomed back a currently threadbare squad to the Academy of Light on Monday, one bolstered by a cohort of young talent.
Anthony Patterson, Dan Neil, Josh Hawkes, Ollie Younger and Ellis Taylor are all part of the senior group as it stands, and are likely to be given a significant opportunity to impress at Spennymoor Town this Saturday.
Elliot Embleton is also set to be given a prominent role in the squad this season after his hugely successful loan spell at Blackpool ended in League One promotion.
The Black Cats are hopeful that a number of that group will push for regular football under Johnson, even if there is the possibility of some loan movement later in the window.
There will be talks over Benji Kimpioka's short-term future, too, though his campaign only very recently ended after Torquay United were beaten by Hartlepool United in the National League play-off final at Ashton Gate.
As such, there is work to be done to bolster Elliott Dickman and Michael Proctor's squad, who impressed in reaching the Premier League 2 Division 2 play-off final last season.
The Echo understands that such work is well advanced, with a number of players signed up for the new campaign.
Reports this morning claimed that the Black Cats have agreed a deal with left-sided player Tyrese Dyce, who impressed in a trial spell towards the end of last season.
It's understood that the Black Cats have also completed deals for a cohort of other trialists from last season.
Tom Scott, formerly of Northampton Town, has agreed a deal, as has former Guiseley defender Nathan Newall.
Sunderland have also completed a deal to sign former Manchester United goalkeeper Jacob Carney, who is line to take Patterson's place in the U23 squad.
Ethan Kachosa, formerly of Leeds United, was part of the squad for the play-off games and is also understood to have agreed a deal.
Speaking after that play-off final defeat, Proctor told The Echo that significant changes were inevitable, but that the playing philosophy will not change amid the turnover in personnel.
"There will be a big transition and a lot of new players coming in," he said.
"The ones who are coming in from outside the football club, we have to instil in them the values that we expect from a Sunderland player.
"If we show them a video of the play-off final, I’m sure that will show them everything they need to know about playing for this football club.
"We’re constantly looking to improve and bring better players into the football club,” he continued.
"That has started already. I’m not really thinking about that too much after the result.”
The club announced earlier this summer that six players from the U23 group would be leaving upon the expiration of their contracts at the end of this month.
Brandon Taylor and Jake Hackett both departed and are currently free agents, alongside Bobby Beaumont.
Ryan Wombwell has joined Gateshead, while Lee Connelly has joined Queen of the South.
Mitch Curry, who made his debut against AFC Wimbledon, has joined Inter Miami CF and is currently on loan at Fort Lauderdale.