Sunderland boss gives fascinating insight into Amad's rise - and the major dilemma he now faces

Another Sunderland game and another defining contribution from Amad.

The Manchester United loanee now has four goals in six games as he begins to emerge as one of the key players in Tony Mowbray's side.

So how has he managed it - and what happens next?

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Mowbray gave us the inside track as he reflected on three crucial points...

The keys to his rapid rise

It understandably took Amad a while to settle but as he picked apart Birmingham in a stunning display, Mowbray noted that his rise on the pitch had been matched by a change off it.

Mowbray noted a young player beginning to relish his new environment.

And while the language barrier remains a daily challenge, Mowbray is helped considerably by the fact that the youngster is proving himself to be hugely intelligent tactically.

Sunderland winger Amad has been in outstanding form

Mowbray doesn't know what lies ahead for Amad but from his time at Blackburn there is precedent for a youngster developing rapidly.

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"With Diallo, playing football is the best thing for any young player," Mowbray said.

"Harvey Elliott came to Blackburn and played because Liverpool didn’t think he was ready to play in their first team. He played a whole season for us and was amazing with the goals and creativity. He was a young kid at 17 who just wanted to play football. You could give him the ball and let him dance with it. To be honest, I didn’t think he would start in Liverpool’s team the following season – they’re trying to win the Champions League and Premier League every year – and yet there he was, he was playing the following season. Is Amad going to score 20 goals for us this year and will Man United think he can go and start in their team next year? Will he be there? I don’t know. A lot of it is personality and drive, and having a growth mindset and wanting to keep getting better every day."

What pleased Mowbray most about Amad's contribution on Saturday was that for once, his goal wasn't particularly spectacular. That was itself a sign of where he's developing: "I was just pleased he was at the back post because, a few months ago, I think he might have been stood on the touchline 30 yards from the goal.

"Yet there he was, tapping it in. Raheem Sterling goes to work with Guardiola, and I’m certainly not comparing myself to him, but a different coach telling players different things can make a difference. Sterling scored six or seven goals a season, then all of a sudden he’s getting 25 to 30, not because he’d become a much better player, but because he’d been given advice on where he should be.

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"It’s just trying to help them really. I can’t help Amad Diallo do stepovers, I was a big centre-half who headed it. I can’t teach him anything about the ball, but I can tell him, ‘When the ball’s here, you have to be there mate. You have to threaten’.

"He’s still learning and working on it, but he’s so clever and bright. Even though the language is still half an issue for us, he understands. He nods, he knows and then he does it."

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'Change the song': Manchester United loanee Amad sends hugely important message ...

The challenge he's left Tony Mowbray - and Patrick Roberts

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The challenge for Mowbray is that Amad's sparkling form has left him with a major selection dilemma.

Patrick Roberts has been described by Mowbray as one of the most talented players in the league, and he made getting him up to speed and form a key priority after taking over. The initial results, most notably away at Reading, were spectacular.

Amad was recruited after a permanent move for Nathan Broadhead fell through in its very final stages. Though Amad was clearly not a like-for-like replacement, Sunderland didn't feel the required standard of striker was available, so gambled on his versatility and sheer quality.

Mowbray has quickly and accurately assessed that the 20-year-old is best operating off the right flank where he can cut inside, and the need for him to play infield is now reduced by the return of the club's orthodox centre-forwards.

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Amad and Roberts have dovetailed brilliantly in some moments, most notably at Watford away where they tormented the left side of the defence, but at home to Cardiff there was a very obvious lack of balance.

You get the impression it's a dilemma that is costing Mowbray some sleep.

“He’s only playing on a regular basis because of his talent," he said of Amad.

"I have to sit Patrick Roberts down in my office, who, in my opinion, is probably the most talented footballer in this league, yet he’s not playing. ‘Why am I not playing if you think I’m that talented?’ ‘Well, because this kid assists and scores goals Pat, and with total respect, you scored two amazing goals away at Reading this season and you’ve had some assists, but Diallo’s on fire at the moment and he plays in the same position as you’.

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"My job is to try to find a way of putting them both in the team, yet you have to pick and choose the games where you feel you can be dominant with the ball and put them both in the team at the same time.

"We’re delighted with him, and it’s amazing to think Patrick is sitting on the bench. He’s probably the most talented player in this league, yet Amad’s goals and assists are keeping him out at the moment."

What chance of a January recall?

The Manchester Evening News reported last week that United will consider a January recall as Erik Ten Hag is open to the idea of adding another left-footed forward to his squad.

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Mowbray spoke about that before the Millwall win - admitting that while possible he didn't feel it was particularly likely at this stage.

Sunderland fans will be hoping that proves to be correct.