Print Head

With pre-season only a matter of weeks away, a number of Sunderland youngsters will be sensing an opportunity to make their mark on Jack Ross’ first-team squad.

Tuesday, 11th June 2019, 13:39 pm

But who will be knocking on the manager’s door come the start of the season?We take a look at five exciting talents who could flourish in the first-team fold during the new campaign:

ELLIOT EMBLETON

The Sunderland youngsters set to make their mark in 2019/20

Sunderland desperately lacked creativity at times last season, with the play-off final defeat to Charlton only serving to emphasise the lack of an attacking spark.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But Embleton’s stats during an impressive loan spell with Grimsby were stunning and he would be exactly the type of player the Black Cats would be looking to sign were they to enter the market.

Ross could do worse than handing him an opportunity to shine - and his introduction could fix a big problem in the side.

ETHAN ROBSON

Injury and circumstance saw Robson miss-out on the first-team chance that he arguably deserved last year.

But a loan spell at Dundee saw the youngster recapture his best form, and now he’ll be looking to push on.

While competition in the middle of the park is rife, the likes of Lee Cattermole and Grant Leadbitter are unlikely to be able to feature in every game during the upcoming campaign.

And that could open the door for Robson - a play Ross rates highly - to stamp his authority on the first-team picture.

BALI MUMBA

Having flirted with the first-team picture last year, the 17-year-old will be desperate for more senior exposure this season.

Although naturally a midfielder, Mumba impressed at wing-back during the Checkatrade Trophy campaign and that may have given Ross some food for thought.

With many backing the Scot to revert to the 3-5-2 formation used at the start of last season, could that open a door for Mumba?

JACK BAINBRIDGE

Another name which hasn’t been mentioned too much around the first-team, but the former Everton youngster has every right to be considered as part of Ross’ squad.

Calm on the ball and tough in the tackle, Bainbridge would be looking to put the pressure on his more experienced defensive counterparts.

That was a problem area for Sunderland last season, and the up-and-coming centre back will be eyeing his chance ahead of pre-season beginning.

LEE CONNELLY

While teammate Benji Kimpioka has stolen the spotlight at times this campaign, Connelly was arguably the more consistent of the two and impressed in the former’s absence in the under-23 side.

While he is most comfortable down the middle, the youngster can also play out wide and exhibited this to great effect in Elliott Dickman’s second string side.

There is still much work to do, of course, and the forward remains raw - but he could be a name to watch this season.