Sunderland youngsters
ACCRINGTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Denver Hume of Sunderland during the Sky Bet League One match between Accrington Stanley and Sunderland at The Crown Ground on April 3, 2019 in Accrington, United Kingdom. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images)

After narrowly missing out on promotion last season, fans are hoping for extra quality to be brought in. Sunderland, however, are now operating on a League One budget, even if it is the highest in the league. Players that some fans crave could be out of reach. However, several Sunderland youngsters could reduce the need for new players.

The Black Cats have a Premier League academy and with money needing to be carefully watched, now is the time to use products of the academy. Here is a look at some of the Sunderland youngsters who are products of the Academy of Light, plus one player recently brought in who could prove to be a surprise package.

Six Sunderland Youngsters to Eye Next Season

Denver Hume

22-year-old full-back Denver Hume joined Sunderland as a ten-year-old. He rose through the age groups before competing for the club’s development team. His impressive form saw him given his first-team debut against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 2017/18 season.

Although predominately a left-back, Hume started last season at right-back. He impressed management and fans alike and looked to be establishing himself as a first-team regular. However, a five-month lay off through injury restricted his appearances to just 11 games.

Big things are expected from Hume who signed a new contract in April. Should he get a chance in his natural position, the left-back, with an abundance of pace, could have a hugely successful season.

Benji Kimpioka

The Swedish winger/attacker joined Sunderland in 2016 from IK Sirius. His impressive performances for the Black Cats development side earned him a place in Jack Ross’s first-team squad last season. The 19-year-old made his debut at home to Peterborough United, coming on as a late substitute but still putting in an impressive display.

Kimpioka went on to play several more times, most notably in the EFL Trophy. He scored a goal after 123 seconds against Carlisle United. He also scored against fierce rivals Newcastle United. Once described as a wonderkid, Kimpioka is a pacy attacker who can play on either wing or behind the main striker.

Still young and still raw, Kimpioka has much to learn. He is currently at odds with the club over a new contract. Having lost top-scorer Josh Maja in January due to having just six months left on his contract, owner Stewart Donald does not want a repeat. The talented youngster would do well to sign a new deal and concentrate on improving. Be that in the Sunderland first team or via a spell on loan.

Elliott Embleton

The technically gifted midfielder, who shone on loan at Grimsby Town last season, could have a big part to play this coming season. The highly-rated academy product recently signed a new contract with the club for a further two years.

Desperate for first-team football, Embleton has been given a chance during pre-season. He has repaid his managers faith with classy and composed performances. He is looking to cement a place in the first-team squad this season. Should he continue to impress, competition in central midfield could get very competitive. A good thing for all concerned.

Ethan Robson

Robson spent time on loan at Dundee last season having struggled with injuries. The move to Scotland should have been of benefit as it allowed the 22-year-old to gain valuable game time. Robson came through the ranks at his hometown club and has impressed many who have seen him play.

Robson believes his time in Scotland has helped him become a better player, telling the Sunderland Echo: “When you come through the academy it’s all nice football, but what I learned in Scotland was that you’ve got to have that snap. You can’t just always think, let him have the ball, you’ve got to make tackles in midfield, you’ve got to get up and down.”

At 22, the midfielder now needs to show he is capable of playing regularly for the first team. He has featured so far in pre-season, scoring the opening goal in the Black Cats first game of the summer.

Bali Mumba

Teenage wonderkid Mumba joined Sunderland at an early age. He rapidly rose through the ranks at the Academy of Light. The youngster began last season in the starting 11. At just 16, he played the full 90 minutes on the opening day against Charlton Athletic. He went on to play the next two games before becoming a bit-part player. Now 17, the talented midfielder still has time on his side; however, he is highly thought of and could have a very bright future.

With Jack Ross looking to give more game time to his youngsters, Mumba could benefit. Although a more likely outcome, due to the amount of midfielders Ross has at his disposal, would see Mumba gain experience on loan.

Ruben Sammut

Sammut is a player who some may not know too well. Where other Sunderland youngsters have been with the club many years, Sammut was one of three youngsters signed earlier this month. He originally had a trial with club last season and impressed enough to earn a permanent deal.

Sammut is a product of Chelsea’s academy and, like Lee Cattermole, who recently left the club, is an old fashioned midfield destroyer. He’s not a player who will advance too often into the opponent’s half, but he will protect his defenders.

The 21-year-old has featured in pre-season and showed flashes of his talent. Sammut, like several other youngsters, is hoping to make their presence felt this season. Should they continue to improve and impress, Jack Ross could have a very welcome selection headache to deal with.

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