Imminent Manchester United signing leaves Sunderland with a big decision to make amid loan interest
This will be a summer of big decisions at the Academy of Light.
We’ve already seen Kristjaan Speakman and Lee Johnson make some tough calls on the futures of the host of out-of-contract players on Wearside, and there will be many more major and minute calls to come in the coming weeks.
And one of the more pressing concerns will undoubtedly be what to do with the club’s talented youngsters.
The likes of Josh Hawkes, Dan Neil and Oliver Younger are likely to be given a chance to impress in pre-season after their impressive seasons in Premier League 2.
But arguably Sunderland’s star performer in their two Premier League 2 play-off games was Anthony Patterson – whose string of fine saves at Crystal Palace will no doubt have caught the eye of a number of the clubs watching on at Selhurst Park.
The 21-year-old has already tasted some first-team football on Wearside, starting in the Papa John’s Trophy at Oldham last season, but now looks ready for more sustained senior involvement.
So will that be at Sunderland, or further afield?
The expected arrival of Jacob Carney from Manchester United could well help the decision-making process, given that the youngster is likely to form part of Elliott Dickman’s under-23 side.
That will mean there is no longer a reliance on Patterson to play in Premier League 2 games, allowing him to gain that much-needed first-team experience.
The big decision facing Sunderland, therefore, is whether a loan move is needed in order to ensure those opportunities are forthcoming.
The Echo understands that some League Two clubs are monitoring Patterson’s situation following his impressive end to the campaign, and a loan move could be on the cards.
But Sunderland may yet feel that the youngster has plenty to offer on Wearside.
With Remi Matthews released, the club will be looking for competition for Lee Burge as they target promotion from League One at the fourth attempt.
There is an argument to be had that Patterson could well provide that competition given his impressive performances over the last year.
But the ‘keeper needs regular football – and if that can’t be guaranteed at Sunderland, then a loan move may suit all parties.