Sunderland AFC’s academy has a proud track record of producing first team players and the latest to be making big strides under Jack Ross is Denver Hume.
The promising full-back has battled back from a knee injury to regain his place ahead of a tense, nerve-shredding final eight games of the League One campaign.
Hume came off the bench in front of 84,000 fans in the Checkatrade Trophy defeat to Portsmouth, impressing in his cameo performance with his energy, endeavour and skill.
And the left-back was handed a start in the 3-0 win over Accrington Stanley, one of five changes at the Wham Stadium.
He stood out, once again, winning words of praise from his manager, teammates and onlookers as he bombed down the left wing, providing width as Sunderland looked to add to their tally.
Ross, heaping praise on the Northumberland youngster, said: “His willingness to get forward and his decision making is very good. I don’t have any fears about playing him.”
It was another classy display from the 20-year-old, who is robust in defence and a real threat going the other way with several dangerous crosses into the box and purposeful runs.
It is testament to the promising defender that Ross - with Adam Matthews and Reece James both out injured - again opted for him over the more experienced Costa Rica international, Bryan Oviedo.
The lesser-spotted Oviedo made his Sunderland comeback on the bench but he has a fight on his hands to regain his place after a lengthy spell out.
It looks a fight he is destined to lose. Indeed, it is now Hume’s shirt to lose and it would be no surprise if he ended the season as the first choice left-back.
Hume, who has been at the club since the age of 10, is very highly rated within the Academy of Light, with Sunderland desperate to tie him down to a new contract with talks ongoing ahead of his current deal running out this summer.
Hume’s knee injury restricted him to just nine appearances this term so far but he has made a significant impression on Ross, who believes he has a big future.
Should Sunderland win promotion, then Hume has the natural ability and workrate to step up to the Championship and make that left-back slot his own for years to come.
Oviedo almost left the club on loan in January, a deadline day move to West Bromwich Albion falling through at the eleventh hour, and it would be no surprise to see the high earner depart this summer.
Oviedo’s departure wouldn’t be mourned if Hume continues to blossom and fulfils his huge potential.