KEVIN BALL is convinced that Mikael Mandron will progress during his loan spell at ambitious League Two club Fleetwood Town.
Mandron is rated as one of the brightest prospects emerging from Sunderland’s Academy of Light after the French-born striker made his first-team debut at the tail end of last season.
But those two outings from the bench under Paolo Di Canio have been the 19-year-old’s only previous experience of competitive football.
After missing the start of the season with a knee injury, Mandron has joined Fleetwood on loan until the end of the campaign and development coach Ball is pleased the teenager will gain some vital experience in the Football League.
Ball told the Football Echo: “Mika will reap the benefits because he’ll find out what football is like at that level.
“Ultimately, his aim is to play as high as he can and I hope he does that.
“But it’s nice for him to experience the football world where each week there’s pressure on you to play and perform.
“You have that intensity in training day in, day out, and I think he needs that and it will be good for him.”
Mandron headed out on loan at the same time as Under-21 team-mate Liam Agnew, who joined Conference North side Boston United on a month’s loan.
Agnew, who made his debut in last weekend’s 4-2 defeat to Hednesford Town, has impressed at U21 level this season and, although his long-term objective is to make the grade at Sunderland, he realises he needs more experience.
“My long-term goal is to hopefully get into the Sunderland first team, but I want to basically get experience here, train hard, play hard and improve as much as I can,” said Agnew, who is at Boston with Sunderland club-mate Liam Marrs.
“(Boston is) a good club. It’s different to what we’re used to at U21s, so you get a lot of good experience playing against men, real footballers.
“I’m happy to get the experience here. It’s a massive part of my development and a massive learning curve.”
Meanwhile, Ball was coy over what lies in store for midfielder Billy Knott after Sunderland cut short his loan spell at League Two Wycombe a fortnight early this week.
There has been speculation that Knott could be heading to League One side Port Vale, again on loan.
“Billy’s back for a while, but how long he’s back, no-one knows,” said Ball.
Taken from Saturday’s Football Echo
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