Elliott Dickman has hinted that Sunderland teenager Bali Mumba could depart on loan this summer.
The 17-year-old burst onto the first-team scene in 2018 when he made his senior debut at the Stadium of Light, replacing John O’Shea against Wolves.
While the midfielder was intermittently involved in Jack Ross’ first-team squad, it is hoped that his development will accelerate even further in the upcoming campaign.
And Under-23 boss Dickman has suggested that such progress could come via a temporary spell away from the Black Cats.
Dickman said: “Bali was in the first team at the start of the season and there is no doubting his quality.
“But he needed time to develop, as it is first full season in the building as a player and he is still only 17.
“He has had a year in the Under-23s, and next season, we will have a look at him and see what sort of level might benefit him to go and play senior football.
“After a couple of years of playing Under-23s football, you need to go on loan and play first-team football.”
Mumba was just one of the Black Cats’ talented youngsters handed a chance to impress last season, with a raft of debuts dished out in the Checkatrade Trophy. That, according to Dickman, is the primary aim of the U23s - whose final league position, where they ended bottom of Premier League 2, doesn’t reflect the sterling work done behind the scenes.
“The main thing is that we have had Benji Kimpioka, Denver Hume, Jack Hackett, Lee Connelly, Jack Bainbridge, Bali Mumba and others getting in and around the first team, and it is fantastic for them,” he said.
“That is a huge plus – sometimes we don’t realise that. We lose on the Monday, but the players are developing and are breaking into the first-team squad.
“From an academy perspective, seeing players graduate into the first team is what it is all about.
“Personally, do I want to win games? Yes. Do I want to win trophies? Yes. But it is not about me, it is about the players.”