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Sunderland could strike gold by unearthing Caden Kelly

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray has enjoyed an excellent start to his life at the Stadium of Light with seven points from his first four Championship matches.

The ex-Blackburn coach arrived on Wearside after Alex Neil left to join Stoke City and has taken no time in adjusting to his new surroundings, winning two of his first three games 3-0 – against Rotherham and Reading.

He now has his first chance to fully evaluate all parts of the club during the first international break of the campaign, after being thrown in at the deep end.

One area in which he may look to explore is the youth set-up at the Academy of Light to see how close some of the players are to breaking into his squad.

Neil handed a group of academy prospects first-team numbers for the 2022/23 campaign last month and one of those gems was central midfielder Caden Kelly.

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Sunderland striker Ross Stewart in action

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This resulted in the 18-year-old being given his debut for the senior squad outside of the EFL Trophy by coming on as a substitute in the 2-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup last month. The gem played 11 minutes in the match and completed 80% of his passes as the Black Cats were dumped out of the competition.

Journalist Josh Bunting previously described him as a “perfect” player for Neil and claimed that he could break into the first team this season. The reporter lauded the gem’s talents in the past, Tweeting: 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.”

Does Kelly deserve a chance?





Mowbray could now strike gold by handing the teenager an opportunity to show what he can do in the Championship, whether that is in the immediate future or further down the line.

The gem has shown promise as an attack-minded midfielder in the youth ranks in recent years. He has racked up ten goals and nine assists in 56 appearances for the U18’s and U21’s combined, which shows that he is a player who likes to get up the pitch to make an impact in the final third.

Neil’s faith in him, the praise he has received from Bunting, and his form for the academy suggests that there is a talented prospect in the U21s for Mowbray to unearth.

At the age of 18, he has many years left ahead of him to develop and hone his skills and Sunderland could strike gold by helping him to translate his attacking quality over to first-team level. They could have a valuable asset on their hands if Kelly can make the step up to the Championship and deliver goals and assists on a semi-regular basis from the middle of the park.