Lee Johnson believes that his close relationship with Dion Sanderson has helped him to thrive during his time at Sunderland.
The 21-year-old arrived at the Stadium Of Light at the start of the season but never established himself as a first team regular until Johnson had taken over as manager of the club.
Since then the Wolves starlet has proven himself as a vital player for the club, leading to reports that Sunderland could be keen to bring the player back on loan next term.
He’s also said to be attracting interest from Crystal Palace, Sheffield United and Brighton.
But while Johnson refused to be drawn on the reported interest, he was keen to emphasise how highly he rates the defender as the Black Cats move into the business end of the season.
As quoted by the Northern Echo, Johnson said: “The Sunderland to Wolves stuff is nothing really to do with me, apart from knowing Nuno quite well, because I did my Pro Licence on him.
“My relationship is with Dion, and I think that’s the key relationship there.
“Does he feel valued, does he feel trusted in his performance? Hopefully, he would say yes and we certainly trust him and his quality. He’s had a good, extended run of games now. I think that Papa John’s situation (when Sanderson was cup tied) probably interrupted things with him at the start, but now through both his form and the injury situation, he’s had a real consistent run and done very, very well.
“From my side, it’s a very easy situation – keep trying to improve the player as much as possible. I think the player respects that in the end. I can’t really talk about anything other than his performances for Sunderland, which have been very, very good.”
Think you’re a big Sunderland fan? Take our 18 question quiz to find out<strong>
This would be a fantastic signing if Sunderland could pull it off.
Dion Sanderson has arguably been the club’s best player since the turn of the year and so it’s no surprise that the Black Cats would be keen to bring him back to the club next term.
That will likely depend on the club’s ability to secure promotion to the Championship and that means that they have work to do if they have any chance of getting a deal done.