Sunderland youngster Will Harris reveals he was on brink of leaving the club before breakthrough season

Will Harris has revealed that he was on the brink of leaving Sunderland last summer.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 12:00 pm

The 21-year-old has been the standout player in the U23 group this season, with a superb return of nine league goals from just eight games.

With Josh Hawkes moving on loan to Tranmere Rovers, and a number of players stepping up into Lee Johnson’s senior squad, Harris has been given added responsibility and thrived on it this season.

That form has been rewarded with two senior appearances, including a senior league debut in the 2-1 win over Gillingham.

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Sunderland youngster Will Harris

Having signed from Burnley the striker initially found opportunities hard to come by, with the club initially deciding not to offer him fresh terms.

But Harris proved his worth and says the initial disappointment of fearing his Wearside career was over has driven him to excel.

“Last year was tough at times,” Harris told the Red & White matchday programme.

“There were lads like Mitch [Curry] who’s doing well in Miami now, and Benji [Kimpioka] who’s been here for a long time, so I knew the challenge for game time - but I had every confidence in my ability to make an impact and change games.

“I got told at first during the season that I wasn’t being kept on, which I kind of expected because of how the year had gone.

“I spoke to my dad, though, and coaches like Michael Proctor and Mark Prudhoe - and they told me anything can happen.

“Every opportunity for me felt like a chance to prove myself.

“I came in on my last day and had packed all my stuff up. Then Proc and Elliott Dickman sat me down and told me I was being offered another year. I was buzzing with that.

“This year has been class - I’ve really, really enjoyed it,” he added.

“My main focus in the summer was to come back as first and ready as I could to make the step up.

“It was never lost on me how big that opportunity was to get the extra year.

“It was all then about hitting the ground running.

“I scored two against Fulham in the opening game, and that’s massive for confidence as you feel like you can score in every game.

“I was told early I’d start against Lincoln in [in the Papa John’s] and to beat them was brilliant as they put out a strong side.

“The Gillingham game was a huge moment for me as that ambition was to make my league debut, and with the state of the game the gaffer was bringing me on to do an important job."

Though Harris spent a number of years in Burnley’s academy, his grandad is a Sunderland supporter and so the magnitude of the club is well known to him.

He says that background means it is ‘brilliant’ to be representing the club as he looks to kick on even further.

“I have a big footballing family from the North East - when you’re from this area, you know how big the club is,” Harris said.

“I used to drive past the stadium, see fans in their numbers, even before I was ever with the club.

“To be here now is just brilliant for me.”

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