Dan Neil and Elliott Embleton could show Sunderland manager Lee Johnson the benefits of homegrown players over new signings this season, former Black Cats striker Stephen Elliott has said.
Both Neil and Embleton are products of Sunderland’s academy, and have both featured in every league game for the Black Cats so far this season.
Neil netted his first senior goal with a stunning in Sunderland’s 2-1 win over Accrington at the weekend, with the 19-year-old also registering two assists since the start of the campaign.
Embleton meanwhile, impressed in helping Blackpool win promotion to the Championship during a loan spell last season, and the 22-year-old already has two goals and two assists in the league since returning to the Stadium of Light.
Now it seems that Elliott believes the chances Neil in particular has enjoyed this season, may not have been available to him in previous years, which he feels could provide an important lesson for Johnson.
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Writing in his column for the Sunderland Echo about the duo, Elliott said: “I feel he [Neil] is a player who has hugely benefited from the new mantra of the club.
“If he had have been breaking through a few years back at the Stadium of Light, then I’m not sure whether he would have been given the opportunity he has received this year.
“The club have made errors in my opinion in recent years by bringing players in that are not as good as some of the home talent available. Both Neil and Elliot Embleton have shown this season that the club are still developing real quality.
“The effect both have had this season will no doubt make Lee Johnson aware of the beauty of what homegrown players bring to the first team and we may see some more over the course of the season. The crowd loves watching local kids breakthrough also.”
It does seem as though Elliott has a point with what he is saying about Neil and Embleton here.
Both players have been really impressive for Sunderland so far this season, helping them to top spot in the current League One table, and seemingly nailing down their places in the starting lineup in the process.
Indeed, if both players, and the team, continue to perform in that way, then it is hard to see that changing any time soon.
That therefore, could save Sunderland plenty of money they might have otherwise had to incest on strengthening those positions, freeing up the budget to be spent in other areas.
As a result, the chances given to Neil and Embleton this season, could prove rather profitable for the Black Cats in more ways than one.