Sunderland are in a weird place at the moment.
Eight points off top spot, it’s difficult to envisage a scenario where the Black Cats get automatic promotion again.
Despite the takeover talk, it has been a troublesome period but they have received some good news in the last few weeks with Elliot Embleton returning to the fray.
Sunderland don’t particularly have too many troubles in central midfield. After all, it’s an area where they are particularly well-stocked.
At Phil Parkinson’s disposal, he has Grant Leadbitter – a scorer against Doncaster – and Max Power. The manager also has Josh Scowen and George Dobson who can play in that area of the pitch.
You can argue that all of those players are fairly one-dimensional midfielders, however, so perhaps some added impetus from elsewhere would go down nicely.
That could start with a certain Embleton, someone who picked up a serious hamstring injury which ruled him out for around five months last season.
However, he’s now back and according to Sunderland Echo journalist Phil Smith, “we’re going to see plenty of Elliot Embleton in the coming weeks.”
Embleton is one of the most promising players to have come through Sunderland’s academy in recent years and is highly-rated in various circles.
He is capped nine times by England U20s and scored four goals in 30 appearances during a loan spell with Grimsby in 2018/19. The midfielder also registered four assists.
Unfortunately, though, the 21-year-old was limited to a solitary first-team outing at Sunderland last season. That being said, we’re now seeing a resurgence from a man once tipped to replace former captain George Honeyman in the Black Cats’ squad.
When he left for Hull in the summer of 2019, Jack Ross had the following to say:
“We don’t have any immediate thoughts about bringing another one in that position. We feel we have good options there. Unless anything untoward happens, especially with Elliot’s emergence and continued progression hopefully, then that helps us as well.”
Ross is someone who rated the youngster highly during his stint at the Stadium of Light, also commenting: “Embleton has been terrific since he came back for pre-season. You can see what he can provide in the final third, so I was pleased with that.”
That impact in the attacking third of the pitch from a midfielder right now would be absolutely ideal.
That being said, it’s crucial that Parkinson is careful with his fitness. Embleton has only eight minutes of League One action in 2020/21 so his sharpness will need to be built up sufficiently before any regular starts.