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.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 5:00 am

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.

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Sunderland youngster set for big pre-season after National League play-off agony
Sunderland youngster set for big pre-season after National League play-off agony

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.”

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