May 26, 2024

Sunderland could fix defensive woes by gifting minutes to “strong” teen

Sunderland will be tempted to gift this youngster more opportunities to impress soon.

Sunderland continue to be plagued by issues at the back, with Mike Dodds unable to find a consistent starter at left-back alongside having Luke O’Nien out of action for the Queens Park Rangers clash.

Versatile January recruit Callum Styles was given a start down the left-hand flank in the 0-0 draw against the visitors from West London last time out as a result, whilst Leo Hjelde – who was meant to be the answer to their woes on the left with Niall Huggins and Dennis Cirkin sidelined – awkwardly slotted into the heart of defence.

To stop Dodds reshuffling with the back four constantly at the Stadium of Light, the interim Black Cats boss could opt to give one exciting youngster some minutes in the first-team fold soon.

It wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for the 37-year-old coach to catapult this starlet into the senior mix, with Chris Rigg finding his chances increase since Dodds took over the temporary reins.

Oliver Bainbridge’s statistics at youth level

The Wearside outfit will keep their fingers crossed that 18-year-old Oliver Bainbridge is next on the conveyer belt of young gems who can make the jump up to the men’s side, with the teenager tipped to have a big future at the Stadium of Light.

Described as being a “strong” defender by Academy manager Robin Nicholls, when putting pen to paper on a new contract last year, Bainbridge has shone at youth level for Sunderland for some time now.

Bainbridge has notched up 70 appearances in the youth ranks at the Black Cats, with the 18-year-old proving himself to be a confident finisher even whilst playing at left-back over four seasons.

From 16 games in the U18 Premier League last campaign, Bainbridge would help himself to six goals from 16 appearances whilst his efforts this season in the U21 age bracket has seen him pick up two assists from 11 Premier League 2 contests.

It’s resulted in the likes of Everton taking a keen interest in how Bainbridge is developing on Wearside, as has been reported by Alan Nixon.

Sunderland, despite their poor 12th placed standing in the Championship currently, will still strive to keep their promising starlet around and could well begin to integrate him into lineups slowly but surely to see how he copes with the hustle and bustle of the second tier.

Oliver Bainbridge’s future at Sunderland

Bainbridge will be encouraged by Sunderland’s reputation at giving youngsters chances to shine in the first-team fold, with Dan Neil once just a wide-eyed academy product aiming to make it big at the Stadium of Light alongside 16-year-old Rigg.

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