Sunderland have taken Everton youngster Michael Collins on trial - but what do we know about the defender?
The latest youngster to be handed an opportunity with the Black Cats, Collins turned out for the club’s under-23 side against Southampton yesterday evening.
And while he couldn’t prevent Sunderland falling to a heavy defeat against the promotion-chasing Saints, he will hope to have done his chances of earning a deal no harm.
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We take a look at the man currently on trial at the Academy of Light:
Name: Michael Collins
Where has he played before and what type of player is he?
Collins has spent the majority of his career with Everton, having progressed through the ranks at Goodison Park.
The defender joined the Toffees at the age of 14, after being spotted playing for Wirral Boys in the local leagues.
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He initially joined the Premier League side as a striker, but was quickly converted to a left-sided defender - comfortable playing either at full-back or centre-half.
He has been a regular for Everton’s under-18 side in recent years, but is yet to make any sort of senior breakthrough.
Does he have any international experience?
Yes - Collins is able to represent three nations: England, Republic of Ireland and Jamaica.
And it’s the Irish who have been quick to offer the defender experience at international level, having previously handed him a call-up to their under-18 squad.
There was once a belief that Collins would be handed an opportunity to impress with the Three Lions, but a call-up is yet to materialise.
How has his trial spell gone?
The 18-year-old turned has turned out for the Black Cats’ under-18 side in recent weeks, featuring against Manchester City, as he bids to win a deal at the Stadium of Light.
He played a left-back against the Citizens and impressed, setting up Sunderland’s goalin a narrow 2-1 defeat.
Collins was then handed a starting berth for Elliott Dickman’s under-23 outfit as they fell to defeat against Southampton yesterday evening as his spell on Wearside continues.
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He conceded a penalty in the clash, during which he played at centre back, as the Wearsiders shipped five in a disappointing display.
But given Collins age, his lack of experience at that level and the fact he has scarcely played or trained with any of the side - this result may not count against him too much.
Is he likely to be offered a deal by Sunderland?
It’s difficult to speculate as to whether Collins will be offered a deal.
The Black Cats have offered plenty of opportunities to trialists this term - including Andrea Borg, Ruben Sammut and Sam Smart - and none have yet penned permanent deals.
But the club recruited several youngsters from the top flight last season, with the likes of Jordan Hunter and Jack Bainbridge going on to impress at under-23 level while adding some much-needed experience, so Collins may be viewed in a similar bracket should an offer materialises.