Sunderland manager Lee Johnson will be buzzing after the club’s sporting director Kristjaan Speakman confirmed that Elliott Embleton will be part of the first-team squad next season.
Embleton spent the second-half of the 2020/21 season on loan to Blackpool in League One and earned promotion to the Championship last weekend by winning the play-offs. Sunderland failed in their play-off campaign and then watched a player on their books help Blackpool seal promotion to the second tier.
His contract at Sunderland was due to expire this summer before the club triggered an extension to keep him at the Stadium of Light until 2022. Speakman has now claimed that he will impact Sunderland’s team in League One next season, rather than seal a permanent transfer to Blackpool. He told SAFC Unfiltered, via Blackpool Gazette:
“The easiest thing with Elliot would have been to loan him to League Two, and we held out and we held out because we were desperate to get him with the right club and the right coaching staff.
“Neil and the guys at Blackpool have done excellent with him, given him that platform and he’s gone and performed.
“He’s demonstrated the ability to play at the level we need him to play at, so when he comes back here he can hopefully impact our team.”
“He’s technically one of the best players I’ve seen. A good mark of knowing someone’s technically good is he can take corners with both feet.
“I think Elliot’s at that age now where he knows that he needs to stay fit. I know it must be tough for him because I thought last season, he was brilliant in pre-season and then he done his hamstring away at Sheffield United in the [League] Cup.”
Johnson will be delighted that Sunderland have decided to keep Embleton at the club and integrate him back into the first-team picture for next season. Speakman could have opted to cash in on the 22-year-old after his impressive spell with Blackpool, especially given that they achieved promotion to a higher division than Sunderland, but Johnson now looks set to benefit from Embleton’s talents next term.
Embleton produced two goals and four assists in 17 starts for Blackpool. He averaged a WhoScored rating of 6.75 across 21 appearances and set up Blackpool’s equalising goal in the play-off final against Lincoln as he helped his side win 2-1 at Wembley. This shows that he has the quality to make a real impact at League One level and that he is built to perform in the biggest games, having done it in the play-off final.
The £4.3k-per-week midfielder could prove to be an upgrade on Aiden O’Brien. Johnson deployed O’Brien as an attacking midfielder and a winger during the game, as the Irishman played 33 times for Sunderland in League One, averaging a WhoScored rating of 6.61 and providing one assist for his teammates.
Embleton averaged a higher WhoScored rating and was able to create more for his teammates in the league for Blackpool, suggesting that he could improve Sunderland’s squad upon returning to the club this summer.
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