Lee Johnson could had a first team opportunity to Lewis Younger as he prepares for life without Jordan Willis.
The Sunderland defender is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after it was revealed that he could be missing for over six months as he looks to overcome a knee injury.
Johnson has several options of players who could be utilised in central defence as well as having the potential to enter the transfer market for a free agent to come in as an emergency back-up.
But according to the head coach, the 21-year-old centre-back could be in line for a greater role in the first team as soon as he overcomes an injury of his own.
Asked if the club could enter the free agent market, Johnson told Chronicle Live: “I think we have to consider everything.
“I think Ollie Younger could step up, although he is injured at the moment – nothing serious though, just a knock and he should be back in training next week.
“We have also got Dion [Sanderson], Flanno [Tom Flanagan] plays that role, Luke O’Nien has played there in a back three although I haven’t seen him in a two.
“”The bit that I have to decide is whether to flex the system, which I didn’t really have any intention of doing, or do I continue down that path?
“I think you have to try and put round pegs in round holes as much as possible, albeit at times we haven’t been able to do that for various reasons.
“I do trust Ollie Younger, I think he is a great kid. I haven’t seen him enough in games yet to know whether he can handle that situation, but as a personality and in terms of his performances in training, he has been really impressive.”
Quiz: Were each of these 20 former Sunderland players left or right footed?
This could be a big opportunity for Ollie Younger.
Sunderland need someone to step up in place of Jordan Willis and instead of looking elsewhere it could be an ideal solution to give the 21-year-old a chance to thrive.
Only Lee Johnson will know if he’s ready though – after all, there’s big expectations in Wearside at the moment and so he’ll need to be up to the challenge.