With a host of talented youth prospects, over the years there has been a steady stream of academy graduates who have gone on to make their mark in the Sunderland first team.
Whilst the likes of Jordan Pickford and Jordan Henderson might be the more notorious examples, even players such as Dan Neil and Lynden Gooch are currently making their impact for Tony Mowbray’s side.
The 58-year-old could now add another name to that list, with Caden Kelly an exciting versatile youngster who seems to have ability and maturity far beyond his age.
Having already featured at attacking midfield and on the wing, he draws similarities with Patrick Roberts for his technical proficiency rather than blistering speed.
Perhaps with the Englishman enduring an inconsistent season, outlined in his 6.85 average SofaScore rating, the 18-year-old could be slowly integrated with a view to one day replace the former Manchester City trickster.
His progression has been so meteoric that this season he even made a cameo in the Black Cats’ 2-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the EFL Cup, his first senior appearance for the club and a huge statement of intent from Mowbray.
It is clear that Kelly is well thought of on Wearside, with journalist Josh Bunting taking to Twitter to further praise the youngster.
He claimed: “Caden Kelly is a very nice footballer for Sunderland, really technical, has excellent vision and that relates to good pass selection, plays through the lines with relative ease.”
It seems like he could possess the creative spark needed to unlock the tricky Championship defences they often face, and with Ellis Simms and Ross Stewart hopefully both to return soon, it could be a devastating combination should he be given a chance.
He could rival and even one day surpass Roberts, with a clear technical proficiency and a physicality that will come with time.