Sunderland are currently struggling for consistency in the Championship, and despite sitting comfortably in 13th, Tony Mowbray will be ruing the numerous missed opportunities his side have had to advance in the league.
Their issues are coming from the lack of forward play, and despite being inundated with tricky wingers, they have no focal point to play off.
They could instead look to the academy to fill this void that the makeshift Elliot Embleton has unfortunately failed to do.
The man could be Harry Gardiner, who has recently made the step up to U23s football having scored a fair amount for the U18s.
The 19-year-old was signed over the summer from South Shields FC, where the management staff were full of praise for their young marksman.
Academy manager Wess Brown led the praises, claiming: “He is a quiet lad on and off the pitch but his intelligence shouts louder than any player I’ve seen for a long time. Harry has a bright future and has excelled in our environment.”
During his trial period, he featured ten times for the U18s. He managed to score a respectable six times and assist a goal too, before being handed some appearances in the Premier League 2 where he has remained for the current season.
He has only featured once this season, but Gardiner will be desperate to build upon his fine start on Wearside.
Despite a productive opening stage at the Stadium of Light, Ellis Simms still remains injured. He had scored three goals in his first two games for the club and impressed with his speed and physicality despite his age.
Now, perhaps, might be the chance for one of their own youngsters to step up and stake a claim for themselves, with Gardiner demonstrating he could be the club’s own Simms such is his ruthless streak in front of goal. In the process, it would prove that the Mackems don’t need loan players in order to fire them back to the Premier League.
Whatever Mowbray decides to do, he will want to do it quickly to ensure his side does not fall too far away from those coveted promotion spots.