Josh Hawkes is set to become a first team player for Sunderland next term, according to sporting director Kristjaan Speakman,
The 22-year-old arrived at the Stadium Of Light last summer after leaving Hartlepool United and has got supporters very excited with some wonderful displays for the club’s under-23 side.
Hawkes has been hugely impressive in Premier League 2, scoring 13 goals and creating six more in 20 appearances for the development side – the joint-most in the league with Aston Villa’s Louie Barry.
Despite making just appearance in the Papa John’s Trophy earlier this season, Hawkes has been a regular feature in Lee Johnson’s matchday squad in recent weeks, with Speakman discussing the plan to integrate him further into the first team fold during pre-season.
Speaking on the SAFC Unfiltered podcast, Speakman said: “Josh’s performances with goals and assists has been really, really good.
“He’s right up there in both charts. A player at his age now, he needs to be able to come into the first-team environment. He’s trained an awful lot with the first-team.
“He’s not quite managed to squeeze himself onto the starting XI, which speaks probably more about the quality in the team than to say Josh has fallen short. Myself and Lee are watching almost all the games, Josh has performed really really well and he’ll be in the first-team squad for pre-season.
“Every player is different and what we’ve tried to do is structure it so that he’s been across training with the first-team quite a lot and he understands what the requirement is.
“Naturally there’s going to be a reshuffle of the squad in the summer and pre-season provides those players with a great opportunity to get involved in the games and perform.
“That’s the next step he needs to take.”
Quiz: Did these 18 players make more than 100 Sunderland appearances?
It’s going to be a very important summer for Josh Hawkes.
The midfielder is incredibly talented but at 22 years of age it’s time for him to make the step up to first team level.
If that’s not going to happen with Sunderland then it’s essential that he gets gametime next term – even if that means heading out on loan.
Hawkes has the potential for a very bright future and if he impresses Lee Johnson in pre-season then it could be the start of a very promising career.