Sunderland are preparing for a pivotal summer in their history.
Kyril Louis-Dreyfus completed his takeover of the club earlier this year and will be rubbing his hands together as he looks to put plans in place for the season ahead.
The Black Cats are bound to have money to spend; that much is clear regardless of whether they’re playing in League One or the Championship next term.
But while new signings are a priority there’s also likely to be a pathway for the club’s young talent.
Sunderland have developed some really promising players in recent years, but who could be ready to play a central role for the first team next year?
Here are two contenders to make the step up.
The young defender looks set for a very bright future after breaking into the first team fold this term.
After coming through the youth ranks with Burnley, Younger moved to the Stadium Of Light in September as part of the under-23s side.
Since then he’s made three EFL Trophy appearances and started the home League One clash against Rochdale in which he showed his quality as a potential player for next season.
Having shown that he can perform at League One level, the next step will surely be to break into the side and aim for 20+ appearances next term.
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The 19-year-old looks like the next academy prospect to break into the first team set-up with Sunderland.
Neil joined the club’s academy at the age of nine and has thrived at every level on his way to the under-23s where he’s been a regular player this term.
The central midfielder was lined up for a loan move away from the club in January but Lee Johnson made the decision to keep him at the club in order to build his experience around the first team.
As a result he’s played five EFL Trophy matches and made two League One appearances – a tally that he’ll certainly be looking to build on next season.