Lee Johnson responds to questions on Elliot Embleton's Sunderland future amid transfer interest
Lee Johnson has again stressed his desire to see Elliot Embleton make a first-team breakthrough at Sunderland this season.
Embleton is back on Wearside after a hugely successful loan spell at Blackpool, which culminated in Neil Critchley's side winning promotion to the Championship through the play-offs.
Blackpool are one of a number of sides interested in a permanent deal for the 22-year-old, who has one year remaining on his current contract.
Sunderland insisted when Embleton joined Blackpool on deadline day that he would return to play an integral part in the 2021/22 campaign, and he started the first pre-season friendly at Spennymoor Town on Saturday afternoon.
Johnson says that he wants to see Embleton play his way into the starting XI for the new season, and earn himself a new long-term deal at the club.
"We like him as a player," Johnson said.
"The argument where Embo is concerned is that we did the right thing, and have been almost bitten on the backside as a result with him getting promoted.
"But at the same time, we want our players to do well.
"There's no theory of not wanting players to do well, we are delighted that he has been a success at Blackpool.
"Obviously he now comes back into the fold as one of our academy players having had that positive experience, having given positive performances, and positive results.
"Of course, there will be interest in him because he has had a good year, but that interest would have to come with compensation and supersede our desire to give him a new contract.
"For me, the starting point with Embo is that he has every chance to go and earn himself a long-term contract at Sunderland over the next six months, it's as simple as that."
Speaking in May, Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman backed Embleton to be a key figure this season.
“Neil and the guys at Blackpool have done excellent with him, given him that platform and he's gone and performed," he said.
"He's demonstrated the ability to play at the level we need him to play at, so when he comes back here he can hopefully impact our team.”