Jack Ross explains his plans for talented Sunderland youngster Bali Mumba
Jack Ross believes Bali Mumba’s development is currently best served in the U23s.
Mumba is one of the club’s most talented youngsters and last season represented something of a breakthrough.
With the Black Cats initially light on options, Mumba played a full part in the pre-season campaign and started the first two games of the league season.
His playing time was gradually reduced as Ross’ options strengthened and he did not feature at South Shields on Thursday night.
Ross has not ruled out him playing a senior role but for the moment, he wants him to focus in the U23s on finding his best position.
A decision is then likely to be made at the end of the year as to whether he spends more time in the first team set up, or goes out for his first loan.
Mumba turns 18 in October.
At the moment, we've had him in the 23s for most of pre-season.
“Part of the reason is that I would like him to, last season we were a bit unfair to him because he was needed in and around the first team, and positionally he'd be playing a lot of different roles for the 23s,” Ross said.
“It kind of feels as if the stage he's at, we're looking quite hard at, 'what's his best position and how do we make him better at that'.
“At the moment the best place for that is the 23s. He still comes over with me sometimes and it's not ruling him out of that, and then maybe at the end of the year, we look at it and see if he's around us or whether he goes out on loan.
“Strangely he's never really had time in the 23s, because he came straight from school and was with us,” Ross added.
“So hopefully that might help him in terms of his development.”
Mumba made eight appearances in total last season, two of those in the Checkatrade Trophy.
There would have been more, but his involvement in that competition was often affected by international commitments.