Kristjaan Speakman gives update on Elliot Embleton's Sunderland future and the next steps he'll take
Kristjaan Speakman says he will look to open up contract talks with Elliot Embleton and his representatives amid ongoing interest from Blackpool.
Neil Critchley is eager to bring Embleton back to Bloomfield Road after a hugely successful loan spell, in which Embleton was a regular as Blackpool stormed to promotion through the play-offs.
Speakman said when that loan was initially agreed that Sunderland' s intention was for him to return and be a key part of their squad for the upcoming campaign.
The 22-year-old has subsequently excelled in pre-season and looks set to start against WIgan Athletic on the opening day this weekend.
The situation is complicated by the fact that Embleton now only has a year left on his current contract, and Sunderland's Sporting Director says he knows Embleton wants and needs to be playing regular football.
Speakman believes he can do that on Wearside and says Embleton is 'desperate' to succeed at his boyhood club.
"We’ve been really pleased with Elliot," Speakman told The Echo.
"Elliot and I spent all of the transfer deadline in January making sure we got the right place for him and we worked really, really hard on that.
"It was a fantastic opportunity to get games at the right level, and it has increased his value.
"He’s come back and done extremely well in pre-season, and is someone who we think can be a huge player for us this season and in the future.
"We took the option up on his deal when he went out in January so he has a year left, and that’s something that we’ll have a discussion on with him and his agent.
"I’ve spoken to Elliot a few times and he’s a Sunderland boy, desperate to play for the club, and like any young player he wants minutes on the pitch, he wants to play.
"Any club at our level, you need to see the performances as well. So at the minute, it’s just a conversation that we’ll get started in terms of wanting to retain him.
"I think Elliot understands how much we appreciate and admire him at the club.
"He’s had a smashing period since he came back from that long injury, so he’s in a really, really good place.
"In our philosophy, he probably fits the current direction of the club more than previously.
"One of the reasons we placed him at Blackpool was because we knew he would get the minutes and that he would therefore come back in a far stronger position.
"It probably went a bit too well in terms of he gets promotion [and we’re criticised] but I just don’t see that as a negative.
"We could have let him go out to League Two and played games, but not moved on. I think that would have been negligent if we had done that.
"I do think he probably represents everything we want at the football club," Speakman added.
"Young players will have a different trajectory and path, some burst on at 17, some have a different route.
"But ultimately we want our young players out on the pitch playing for Sunderland and the more we have, the more affinity we have with the fans.
"And I think you get more out of those players because they have that bond.”