Sunderland fans got a little glimpse of the future on Tuesday evening as recently-appointed Black Cats boss Lee Johnson started young forward Jack Diamond during their 2-1 win over Oldham Athletic in the EFL Trophy…
It was the 20-year-old’s ninth-ever senior appearance for the north-east giants and clearly, he left his new manager delighted with his display.
Speaking after the match, Johnson told reporters:
“I thought he was fantastic. He’s got mega-bucks of work to do, and he’s got to sleep with a futsal ball under his pillow because he needs to learn how to master the ball, but wow, he’s so powerful, direct and dynamic, and we need that in our team. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and Jack certainly made a very good one on me today.”
Indeed the Academy of Light graduate put in a good showing at Boundary Park as he played the full 90 – per SofaScore, Diamond successfully pulled off two dribbles, fired two shots at goal, made 81% of his passes and won four duels.
Perhaps Johnson should look to reward the dynamo with more minutes in League One having featured in just two of their 16 matches as a substitute.
Someone like Diamond is truly worth investing time into, especially given the circumstances surrounding Aiden McGeady under Phil Parkinson – yes, the new Sunderland chief has brought him back into the fold but at 34, he’s not going to be around for much longer.
Which is why the reins should be handed to the 20-year-old sensation instead. He’s just shown he can hold his own at this sort of level after a successful loan spell with National League promotion-winners Harrogate Town last term.
Former Sunderland midfielder, now Town assistant manager, Paul Thirlwell spoke glowingly about said spell, he said:
“It was one of those loan deals where everyone won – we won by getting a quality player in, Jack won because he was able to play first-team football and progress, and Sunderland won because they got back a better player given that he had had his first taste of senior football.
“His levels are right up there and he is a really strong lad. He was great for us and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
Whilst Nicky Weaver claimed that Diamond gave them “that scare-factor” ahead of the playoffs, adding: “Jack Diamond just got better and better as the season went on. He became a really good outlet for us. He scared teams and it’s good to have that scare-factor in your side.”
In the long-run, the wing prodigy’s emergence could save the prospective new owners a lot of cash. He’s clearly got the ability, so it’s on Johnson to now breed that potential out of him – and that can be achieved with regular game time at this level.
AND in other news, Lee Johnson dealt first blow as Sunderland boss with fresh injury crisis…