Elliott Dickman offers a fascinating insight into Sunderland’s loan system - as exits for FOUR players are lined-up
Sunderland are set to seek loan deals for up to four of their promising youngsters in the coming weeks.
Elliott Dickman has confirmed that the club are eyeing up temporary exits for some of their second string - having seen a number of players enjoy success during similar spells last term.
Elliot Embleton and Jack Diamond both enjoyed productive stints away from the Academy of Light during the 2018/19 campaign - and it is understood that Diamond and fellow under-23 man Jack Bainbridge are among the names the Black Cats would be looking to sanction a loan move for.
And while a maximum of four players are currently being lined up for loan moves, Dickman hinted that the number could increase following the first half of the season.
“We’ve got our eyes on maybe three, four lads to go and experience a loan at whatever level that may be,” he admitted.
“They’re ready. They’re ready for that challenge and that’s something that we wouldn’t want to stop.
“We want to help that development and see those players going into a different environment and learning the game.
“There’s three or four definites that we want to go out on loan now, but by the time we get to Christmas there could be a few more additions to that.”
Key to any loan departure, though, will be finding the right taker.
While a positive move can accelerate a burgeoning career, so too can an unproductive switch prove something of a hindrance.
Sunderland, therefore, have a team of staff attempting to find the right fit for their young players - but they remain open to any number of possibilities for their brightest talents.
“We’re always open-minded to it,” added Dickman.
“Kevin Ball works very hard behind the scenes to try and get things organised for the players, and obviously there will be contacts - people may get in touch with myself or the first-team staff.
“Sometimes they’re looking for a player that we don’t have in a position, but then we can offer them another player.
“Some of the lads obviously have agents, so they can do some work for them.
“But it’s a real team effort. It’s not just down to one person, although when the loan finally does happen Kevin is the one that facilitates it and discusses things with the powers that be about how the deal looks and what the structure is.
“It’s a big team effort and we’ve got to make sure that it’s right for the club and right for the player.”
While gametime is naturally one key positive to a loan move, so too are the psychological changes players will have to deal with.
It’s often said by players when stepping out from under-23 football that fighting for promotion or battling against relegation offers a welcome change from academy football - but that is merely one facet to a move.
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From facing rejection from a squad to having to adapt to different personnel and playing styles, Dickman believes loan moves offer players a taste of ‘real football’.
And it’s those such experiences that he feels a number of his side need to embrace in the short-term.
“There will always be benefits to it,” said Dickman.
“Jack Diamond went to Spennymoor last season and benefited from playing a number of games and the fact it was a different environment with a different gameplan.
“At the time, Spennymoor were fighting to be in the play-offs and that adds a little bit of different pressure for someone like Jack to get his head around.
“That’s real football. At the minute, we have a number of players in the under-23 squad who maybe think that they’re going to play football no matter what.
“But the reality is you’re always going to have to earn your place, and that’s something we’re looking to develop and improve in terms of what we do.
“Going on loan, from a mental side, gets them used to real football.
“You don’t have any right to walk into any side. You want to go there and try and enhance their side, but you’ve got to earn that and make sure you’re doing things exactly like how they want you to.
“There’s players here that definitely need to experience real football this season.”
Yet players won’t be cut off from Sunderland during their taste of ‘real football’. In fact, far from it.
Dickman and fellow staff continue to keep close tabs on players during their loan spells - with Ball taking an active role in travelling to watch the club’s youngsters.
Indeed, the Sunderland legend was a regular attendee at Blundell Park last term during Embleton’s departure and first-team assistant boss James Fowler kept tabs on Diamond in the North East.
“Kevin went a lot to watch Elliot and I made contact with him a lot on the phone,” said Dickman.
“If it’s local, like Jack Diamond at Spennymoor, we can go and watch them play.
“James Fowler went to watch Jack play last season, as did myself and Kevin, and there’s constant feedback and contact with the player.”
And with four players now in line for temporary exits, Dickman and co could be set to clock up more miles in the coming months.