The two exciting youngsters Phil Parkinson believes could be 'bonus' players for Sunderland this season
Phil Parkinson says the impressive pre-season form of Jack Diamond and Elliot Embleton could hand him two ‘bonus players for the campaign’.
Diamond returned to the Academy of Light this week after a hugely successful loan spell at Harrogate Town, culminating in promotion after a win in the National League play-off final at Wembley.
The 20-year-old told The Echo that his focus is now on getting into the Sunderland first-team.
"I feel like my game has come on a lot and now there's no reason why I can't go in there and impress and do what I can do,” he said.
"It's my goal to be in that first-team, it's what I'm there for."
Embleton, meanwhile, has been able to play a full part in the pre-season campaign so far after an injury-hit campaign last time out.
Parkinson has previously stated his belief that the talented attacking midfielder could have a part to play in his style and system.
Embleton shone in pre-season ahead of the last campaign, and was picked in the side to face Oxford United on the opening day. Former boss Jack Ross was a huge fan of the 21-year-old after a successful loan at Grimsby Town, but a serious hamstring injury halted his progress.
“A bonus for us as a staff this week is that Jack Diamond has come in and looked really good,” Parkinson told the club’s new podcast, #SAFCUnfiltered.
“Elliot Embleton has trained and each day has looked better and better.
“Those two are kind of bonus players for us as well.
“So I'm not saying we're looking for 10 players.
“Ideally we'd like to bring in another five and if we do that, we'll then have cover in all areas."
The Black Cats are believed to be in the market for another goalkeeper, another option up front, competition at left-back/wing-back, another central defender and more competition in midfield.
Parkinson also revealed that the group are now set to step up their pre-season preparations, confirming his intention to hold a friendly at the Stadium of Light before the new campaign begins on September 12th.
The Black Cats boss said he was pleased with the condition his players had returned in after an extended lay-off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We've arranged a few games,” he said.
“We are looking to have one at our main stadium but the others will be training ground games.
“We had an 11v11 game in house, this morning as well.
“[Pre-season] has been good,” he added.
“The lads have come back in great shape.
“It was always a bit of a concern because we'd had so long without seeing them but over the summer we've been monitoring them and they had programmes to do, and I am so pleased with how they've come back.”