On loan Grimsby Town midfielder Elliot Embleton still has a future at the Stadium of Light, despite being out of contract in the summer, says Sunderland boss Jack Ross.
The Black Cats’ chief told the Northern Echo: “I had him in here between Christmas and New Year.
“He trained with us, and we had a good chat because I wanted to speak to him face-to-face. I like him. We’ve spoken quite a few times one-to-one, even prior to him going, about what was best for him.
“I think he’ll get to the end of this season having had 30 or 40 first-team games, and if I’d come into the job and he’d been in that position, it would have been much better for him because I’d have looked at him then as more of an experienced player.
“The fact is he didn’t have that. I’m not saying that makes him any less of a good player – he just hadn’t played any first-team football. If he was to come back, he would be in my squad and he would probably get opportunities. But how frequent they would be, I can’t say for certain because we’ve got good players at the club in that area of the pitch.
“He is a good player as well, and although you can’t guarantee anything because he’s still got to prove himself at Grimsby as well, I think he’s given himself a greater opportunity of playing week in, week out. I think we’ve seen this as the best for him.
“He’s been brave to do that, but I do think this season is going to be really good for him. He’s a player I want to keep at the club, and a player I think can play a big part in our future progression because I think he has enough quality to do that. And I think the games he gets this season will help him enormously in that regard.”
Embleton is considered one of the Black Cats’ hottest prospects, after starring for both England’s under-19 and under-20 sides, and he has been a massive hit at Blundell Park during the first half of the campaign, scoring four times in 20 outings.