Sunderland's clear stance on Elliot Embleton's future amid transfer rumours following Blackpool promotion
Sunderland are set to hand Elliot Embleton a chance to shine in the first-team next season - after he helped Blackpool to promotion from League One.
The academy graduate joined the Seasiders on loan during the winter transfer window and was a key part of Neil Critchley’s side as they climbed the third tier table before triumphing in the play-off final to seal promotion to the Championship.
Embleton laid on Kenny Dougall’s first goal at Wembley on Sunday, hours after reports had linked him with a permanent move to Bloomfield Road in the summer.
Such reports are no surprise given the positive impact that the 22-year-old has made since his arrival in the North West, and Blackpool’s hand may have been strengthened by the fact their play-off victory.
But Embleton has a year remaining on his contract at the Stadium of Light and is highly regarded by the current coaching and executive team.
Indeed, it was for that very reason that time and care was taken over ensuring the right loan was secured in January – with one eye already on the youngster’s future impact at the Stadium of Light.
"The easiest thing with Elliot would have been to loan him to League Two, and we held out and we held out because we were desperate to get him with the right club and the right coaching staff,” explained sporting director Kristjaan Speakman during a recent appearance on the #SAFCUnfiltered Podcast.
“Neil and the guys at Blackpool have done excellent with him, given him that platform and he's gone and performed.
"He's demonstrated the ability to play at the level we need him to play at, so when he comes back here he can hopefully impact our team.”
Similarly to Speakman, head coach Lee Johnson’s focus is purely on the role that Embleton could play upon his return to Wearside.
While sale speculation is likely throughout the summer, especially given the relatively short amount of time remaining on his current contract, Johnson has already said that his decision will be ‘easy’ one this summer.
"What we do know is it’s an easy decision in the summer with Elliot,” he said, speaking in April.
“He’ll come back and be in the squad. He’s come through our academy, we want to promote him and the reason for him going to Blackpool is for him to do what he’s done.
"We wanted him to be successful in a good side playing good football, helping to take points off other teams.
“He’s done that extremely well. We’re always examining the data side of his performance and we’ve been in touch regularly.
"When we looked at it in January, he might have ended up in a similar situation to Chris Maguire in the last couple of weeks where he's not in the 18, and that wouldn't be conducive to ours or his future moving forward into next season.
"He’s a great footballer who can play off both feet, both channels, and he perfectly suits their 4-2-2-2 system. He’s done exceptionally well.”