Sunderland manager Jack Ross has already proven that he isn’t willing to give his young players a chance this season if they are good enough, and he has told highly-rated attacker Benjamin Kimpioka what he needs to do to become a regular in the starting XI.
Well, some of the Black Cats’ younger players like Denver Hume, Bali Mumba and, of course, Josh Maja have already made big impressions for the Wearside outfit this term, and 18-year-old Kimpioka looks to be in his thinking as well.
The teenager made his league debut for the club as a late substitute in the 2-2 draw against Peterborough United on Tuesday night, although he probably only took his spot in the 18-man squad because Ross had a number of injury issues to deal with that had stretched his squad to the extreme.
The League One outing – albeit brief – followed a 45-minute outing in the EFL Trophy win against Stoke City, while he has also appeared on five occasions for the U23 side in Premier League 2.
Speaking to SAFC.com, the 42-year-old said: “Benji is an enigma at times.
“He has really good attributes to his game, so it’s about trying to piece it all together.”
“Even in those few minutes on the park he showed he’s got attributes that, if he keeps working hard when he’s with the under-23s, he’s got every chance of getting more opportunities as the season unfolds.”
As you can tell from Ross’ comments, the Scottish boss isn’t quite convinced that Kimpioka’s all-round game is good enough for him to be a starter for Sunderland right now, but it is clear that he has the talent and potential to play a crucial cameo role in some fixtures.
If he develops and learns quickly, there is no reason why he shouldn’t get an opportunity this season like Maja and Hume before him.