Sunderland youngster set for big pre-season after National League promotion play-off final agony
Sunderland youngster Benji Kimpioka is turning his focus to a big pre-season on Wearside – after heartbreak in the National League play-offs.
The Swedish striker was part of the Torquay squad that lost on penalties to Hartlepool United on Sunday afternoon, coming off the bench and helping the Gulls net a late leveller through goalkeeper Luca Covolan.
But he was powerless to prevent Gary Johnson’s side losing on penalties to Pools, with Kimpioka not taking a spot kick during the shootout.
The 21-year-old will now turn his focus back to Sunderland though, as he bids to make an impression on head coach Lee Johnson.
The Black Cats are set to return to pre-season training within the next seven days ahead of their friendly at Spennymoor Town on July 3, and the early weeks of pre-season will offer chances for a number of young players to impress.
Josh Hawkes, Dan Neil, Oliver Younger and Anthony Patterson will all be given opportunities, and Kimpioka could also stand to benefit – although it remains to be seen whether he will be given an extended break after his play-off exploits.
Speaking to the Swedish media recently, Kimpioka expressed his desire to ‘fight’ for a place at the Stadium of Light this season.
"The new coach has given me a lot of confidence,” said the striker, speaking to fotbollskanalen.
“I think I will stay in Sunderland, I feel very comfortable with the coach there.
"I still have goals that I set for myself and have not yet achieved. I really have to fight for these goals and then feel ready for the next step.”