Sunderland may end up having a bit of a rebuild this summer when their out of contract players end up deciding where there futures are located.
Luke O’Nien, Aiden McGeady, Denver Hume and Charlie Wyke are all out of contract at the Black Cats and whilst they’ve been offered fresh terms, nothing has been signed and sealed yet with most of them having interest from other clubs.
If they’re added to the seven senior players who were released at the end of this past season, then Lee Johnson has a lot of holes to fill – but a returning loanee could end up being a part of his plans.
Despite making his debut in 2017 as a teenager, 22-year-old midfielder Elliot Embleton has only played 14 league games for Sunderland and he was shipped out on loan to Blackpool in the second half of the 2020-21 campaign.
That ended up being a bad decision by the Black Cats – Embleton played 18 times for the Seasiders and scored in the play-off semi-final second leg against Oxford and teed up a goal for Kenny Dougall in the final at Wembley.
It’s likely that Blackpool will want to try and get Embleton permanently this summer but the sounds coming out of the Stadium of Light are that he will get a chance under Johnson next season, and Black Cats legend Kevin Phillips believes that the club need to fight hard to keep him at the club and make him a key player next season.
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“I would be desperate to keep hold of him. I watched him a few times last season and I think he is good player and he is certainly someone who can play in League One,” said Phillips, per Football Insider.
“It raised a few eyebrows when he went to Blackpool and he did very well there.
“I expect the club to be fighting tooth and nail not to let him go.
“He is a good, young player who has done exceptionally well to help Blackpool get promoted. I think he would have a lot to offer next season. Keep him at the club and let him help the club get promoted.
“The other question is, does Embleton want to stay? I am sure Blackpool will be interested in signing him and he might be tempted to go and play in the Championship. I really hope they keep him though.”
With Max Power, Josh Scowen and Grant Leadbitter all leaving the club, Sunderland are going to have a real overhaul of their engine room this summer and after his performances for Blackpool, it would be silly to not give Embleton a chance.
It is definitely the right time now for his opportunity and even though he’s contracted to Sunderland, he probably felt pretty smug on a personal level when he helped Blackpool get into the Championship.
But he must now knuckle down and show Lee Johnson and co what they have been missing for a while, and like Phillips said the club must do everything they can to make him feel that staying at Sunderland is a better option than pursuing a move to Lancashire.