Dan Neil has emerged as one of the brightest prospects in the entire EFL this season, with the Sunderland midfielder relishing his first season of regular minutes at first-team level.
The 19-year-old has started 11 times for The Black Cats this season, with the match that he did come on from the substitutes bench proving to be their worst performance yet against Portsmouth.
The academy graduate penned down a new contract at the Stadium of Light yesterday, with the 19-year-old extending his deal until the summer of 2025.
Neil has also proven to be a real threat in the final third this season, scoring his first Championship goal in a 2-1 win over Accrington Stanley, and assisting a further four.
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Speaking to Sunderland Echo, Lee Johnson spoke about Neil after the teenager extended his deal at The Stadium of Light: “We’re really happy with him and this contract, and I think it proves our intention as a club is for him to grow into an indispensiable member of the squad.
“I would think he’s very close to a call up.
“If I was an England representative, and they’re excellent at monitoring the lads who are playing, personally I’d be selecting him for one of the squads.
“We have to develop leaders everywhere, all round the club.
“Dan Neil absolutely fits the bill as a future captain of this club.
“He’s signed a long-term contract, has never wavered despite the interest there’s been in him and is still there in him, as we know.
“The world is his oyster in terms of the next steps.”
Neil is an exciting prospect, and if he had not signed a new contract, then Sunderland would have been at risk of losing him to higher-level opposition.
Johnson’s glowing verdict on Neil is completely just, as he possesses maturity and leadership abilities, despite being just 19 years of age.
His technical ability also ranks amongst the best in the division, and he is someone who looks fearless when the ball is at his feet.
Despite his age, he is someone who can play a vital part in their expected promotion push this season, and given how quickly he is progressing, he is someone who could then adapt to the higher level.