Meet the Sunderland AFC youngster making a big impression in non-league - as he's joined by a former Black Cat
Sunderland RCA manager Martin Swales has praised Sunderland youngster Ryan Leonard for his “top class attitude” during his loan spell with the Northern League club.
The young winger has been a regular in the Black Cats under-18s side over the last two seasons and was named as a substitute for the first time in an EFL Trophy defeat at Morecambe in November 2018.
The 18-year-old joined RCA on a work experience loan earlier this season and has gone on to make a big impact so far.
He grabbed his first senior goal in a 2-1 league win at Northallerton Town in August and followed that up with a fine finish to help his side to a 3-2 win over Newcastle Benfield two weeks later.
Swales revealed that he has been impressed with the youngster so far – and tipped him for a bright future with the Black Cats.
He told The Echo “Ryan’s attitude has been absolutely fantastic and he never misses a game for us.
“He is training with us twice a week and he seems to be enjoying his time at the club.
“The lad provides quality for our strikers and he is putting the right kind of delivery into the box.
“He’s a talented young lad and he is confident too.
“He was with the under-18s at Sunderland and I think he has been spoken about as a possible under-23s player over the next few months
“He will develop with us and he will grow physically, he has the commitment and desire and he can make an impact back at Sunderland.”
Swales has added another player with Sunderland connections to his squad in recent weeks after former Black Cats defender Alex Storey joined the Northern League Division One club.
Storey was released by Sunderland at the end of last season and spent time on trial at Middlesbrough during the summer.
The centre-back has also linked up with National League North club Blyth Spartans in recent weeks – but Swales is hopeful that he can play a part in helping the 21-year-old back into the professional game.
“He’d done smashing so far to be honest,” said the RCA manager.
“He has been at Middlesbrough for a month on trial and he has been training with Blyth Spartans.
“The lad has great attitude, and a massive desire to get back into the professional game.
“I would love to help get him to a pro club and for us to play at part in that would be great.”