Elliot Embleton’s impressive form for Grimsby Town has not gone unnoticed by Jack Ross, who faces a ‘difficult’ decision over his future.
The 19-year-old midfielder has scored four goals for the League Two outfit since joining on loan in the summer but his spell at Blundell Park is due to end in the New Year.
Grimsby are keen to extend his loan, while Embleton has said he would be open to extending his stay if Sunderland agree to it.
For Ross, it is about balancing whether to bring him back to Wearside to compete for a place in a competitive squad pushing for promotion or send him back out on loan where he is playing regular first team football.
“It is a difficult one and will be driven not just by me but him as well,” said Ross.
“In football it is interesting, when you sign or bring players in on loan there is often this ‘well, am I going to play?’ but with the greatest will in the world you can’t guarantee any player that.
“Even with the young players; 'am I going to get opportunities?' Well you might get opportunities, 'will I play every week?' - who knows?
“That is something Elliot will have to weigh up as well.
“I have been pleased with how he has done on his loan spell, he couldn’t have done any more in terms of why we put him out on loan and what he could get from it.
“That makes what we do with him next that bit more challenging because he has done so well.
“If he had gone there and hadn’t played regularly, the decision would be easier.”
Embleton, an England youth star, is out of contract next summer.
Meanwhile, Max Stryjek - who enjoyed a successful loan spell at National League Eastleigh keeping five clean sheets - is back on Wearside.
Ross will make a decision in January on whether to send the 22-year-old back out on loan or keep him at the club to challenge for the No.2 spot.
Ross said: “He will come back and we will take a breather and look where we are at with the goalkeeping situation.
“If we got to the end of the month and felt it was right for him to go out again we would do. We will try and weigh it up while we are in the midst of all these games!”
One player who won’t be leaving on loan in January is 17-year-old Bali Mumba, who has broken into the first team picture this year.
Ross said: “With Bali, given his age and development I think he is fine with me for the next six months.
“At the end of the season we will look at where he is, where we are and where he fits with that.
“The only thing I was conscious of was game time but over the last four to six weeks he was away with England, had some game time with me at first team level and also the Under-23s.
“That was the only concern I had for him, getting enough minutes on the pitch but we have caught up with that.
“Unless something dramatic changes he will stay with us.”