Rees Greenwood has already been told that he will be part of Sunderland’s first-team squad for their pre-season campaign.
Greenwood has been the stand-out figure for Sunderland Under-21s this season and had trained regularly with the first-team squad for several months, before being given his Premier League bow in the final day draw at Watford.
The Black Cats have high hopes for the England Under-20s winger and he will be back training with Sam Allardyce’s men when the Sunderland squad begin their pre-season work on July 1.
Greenwood said: “I would like to think I can stay in and around the first team picture next season, but that’s not up to me.
“I have been given the pre-season stuff, so it’s looking good.
“It has been my best season so far, I am really pleased with what I have done in the games and the Under-21s had a good season.
“I just want to get better and better as next season goes on and reach the highest level I can in my career.”
Unlike his three predecessors, Allardyce has been eager to promote Sunderland’s homegrown talent, with Greenwood, Tommy Robson, George Honeyman, Duncan Watmore and Jordan Pickford all give their Premier League bows over the last seven months.
The presence of former U21 coaching pair Robbie Stockdale and Paul Bracewell alongside Allardyce has also helped the cause of the club’s youngsters, who would been given a chance earlier this season if it hadn’t been for the fight against relegation.
“It’s been great having Robbie Stockdale and Paul Bracewell around as well because I have had them with me from the U18s and then the U21s,” said Greenwood.
“They talk to us all the time and tell you what to expect, trying to keep you right.
“(The manager) says that we will all get a chance because he thinks we are good enough. We have to show him that he is right and that we can be in and around the first team picture a lot more.
“Among every manager that I have seen here over the years, this manager has had the biggest impact on the academy.
“He got young players training with the first team squad and doing what he can to involve them. That will help us.
“I travelled to Newcastle and Manchester United before I started but I have been training every day with them. It’s been great and is helping me learn and improve.”
Greenwood’s appearance at Watford was his senior debut, as well as his Premier League bow, after being limited to youth-team football, rather than being sent out on loan.
And he admits the atmosphere at Vicarage Road took some getting used to, even if the 20-year-old had a hand in both Sunderland goals.
“To play in front of a crowd like that at Watford was ridiculous,” he added.
“When I played in front of 4,000 I thought that was bad, then coming here to play in front of 21,000 was mind blowing.
“When you are actually on the pitch concentrating, you don’t tend to take much notice. Obviously you can hear the fans sing loudly and that spurs you on.
“You just have to show everyone why you have the chance because I have never been on loan before, so playing on that sort of stage was totally new to me. I loved it.”