'I believe I'm good enough': Ethan Robson has this message for Sunderland's new manager
Ethan Robson is determined to prove his worth to Sunderland’s new manager - and believes he is good enough to help the Black Cats to promotion from League One.
The 22-year-old has impressed during the early weeks of his loan spell at Grimsby Town, netting three times in September en route to scooping the PFA Fans’ Player of the Month award for the fourth tier.
His fine run of form has coincided with some much-improved results for the Mariners, albeit they have lost their last two league outings either side of their midweek defeat at Sunderland.
But Robson’s performances have quickly gained him attention, and it’s a start which has even taken the man himself by surprise.
“I didn’t really expect it, to be honest,” he said.
“Obviously I had a bit of an injury coming into Grimsby so I knew it would take a few weeks to get up to speed, but I’ve started well.
“Getting goals is great and I’m hoping to get a few more. I believe in myself so hopefully I can score more.
“I’m enjoying my time here and obviously chipping in with a few goals is always nice.
“I’m just hoping to keep up the good form and just try and improve as a player.
“I think playing games is exactly what I need.”
The injury Robson alludes to was the latest in a long line of setbacks which have stunted the youngster’s route to the first team on Wearside.
Jack Ross made no secret of his admiration for the midfielder, and he impressed in a 3-1 win over Carlisle United last season - netting a fine strike from range.
But an injury in the same game saw any thoughts of a run in the first team parked, Robson instead shipped out to Dundee on a half-season loan in January.
“It was a great experience,” he says, of that spell.
“Playing against Celtic, Rangers - it’s left me in good stead for this season.”
There was then hope that Robson, along with returning loanee Elliot Embleton, could prove a key part of Ross’ squad in the new campaign.
Indeed, the midfielder netted in the pre-season opener at South Shields. But again, it proved to be another false dawn.
An injury picked up during pre-season saw Robson fall down the pecking order once again, the arrival of George Dobson and Dylan McGeouch’s decision to stay and fight for his place at the Stadium of Light further restricting his chances.
For Robson, it felt as if circumstance was conspiring against him.
“To be fair, it was really frustrating,” he said of his injuries.
“I felt like I was taking one step forward and then three steps back. I was doing well and then something would happen where I would be out.
“It was hard to be honest, because my dream is to play for Sunderland and I felt like I was getting there and then something would happen where I wouldn’t play.
“It was frustrating but you have to try and be as positive as you can and keep believing in yourself.
“Now, playing games and scoring goals, I’m getting that good feeling back in myself.”
Robson’s progress at Blundell Park isn’t going unnoticed back at the Academy of Light, with Kevin Ball taking an active role in speaking to the young midfielder during his stint in Lincolnshire.
And while the departure of Ross leaves Robson in a ‘tricky’ situation, he continues to draw encouragement from the remainder of the first-team staff.
“I speak to Bally quite regularly,” he added.
“We have chats about how it’s going, what the club think I can improve on and things that are going well. It’s good to speak to someone about it.
“With the manager leaving, it’s a bit of a tricky situation. But I’ve had a few messages from the staff saying ‘good goals’, ‘keep it up’, that kind of thing. They want me to keep improving as a player and I just have to keep pushing on.
“Obviously, now the manager has gone, I’ve got to impress whoever the new manager is by keeping my performances good here and keep getting my name out there.”
The key for Robson now is ensuring that he forces his way into the plans of the new Sunderland manager - with a host of names keen on succeeding Ross.
The midfielder is set to return to Wearside in January, although an extended loan spell isn’t out of the question, and he will be keen to demonstrate why he deserves a run in the first team.
And, crucially, it’s a chance for Robson to prove why he should receive a new contract - with his current deal set to expire in the summer.
Such a pressurised few months could prove daunting for any young player, but Robson said: “I believe I’m good enough to play for Sunderland.
“It’s a dream to play for Sunderland, and hopefully whoever comes in, I can impress them, really put a marker in the ground and show them I want a new contract and to get in their plans.”