Sunderland must green light a January loan for Under 23s prospect Josh Hawkes after Phil Parkinson lauded the impact temporary moves had for Elliot Embleton and Jack Diamond.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s League One clash with MK Dons, via quotes by the Chronicle, Parkinson claimed Embleton and Diamond are now reaping the rewards of their moves away from the Stadium of Light as they begin establishing themselves in the first-team fold.
Diamond joined Harrogate Town on loan for the 2019/20 season and helped the club clinch promotion from the National League to League Two, netting three times in 27 regular season outings before striking once in the Play-Off Final.
The 20-year-old has struggled to earn senior minutes since his Sunderland return, with just one of his appearances coming in League One, but was among the raft of changes who started Tuesday’s EFL Trophy clash with Fleetwood Town.
Embleton, too, featured from the off at Highbury, where the Durham-born midfielder earned just his second senior outing of the campaign after battling with injuries that have kept him out for extended periods over the past year.
Parkinson believes that Diamond’s time at Harrogate and Embleton’s with Grimsby Town during the 18/19 season have helped the pair in their development, noting: “The loan spells they had have really benefited them.
“I spoke to Embo the other day and I was saying to him that when he was on loan at Grimsby, he learnt things that it is hard to teach players on the training pitch – how to handle different types of games, different pressures within games.
“And it was the same for Jack, who went on to be part of a promotion campaign with Harrogate which saw them get out of a tough division.
“The development of those two players has been really enhanced by those loan moves.”
Having lauded the impact of loan moves for Embleton and Diamond, Parkinson must now consider a similar option for Hawkes after frequently overlooking the 21-year-old since his summer arrival from Hartlepool United.
Hawkes earned his first senior Sunderland outing during the midweek EFL Trophy clash with Fleetwood, and impressed at Highbury with two shots, two attempted dribbles, 36 touches, seven duels, one key pass, one tackle and three crosses while played at striker, per SofaScore.
The wide forward was signed with a view to playing in the U23s, but has proven already that he is a step above the youth grades and must strive to feature either in League One or Two once the winter market opens.
Hawkes struck 11 of his 13 Hartlepool goals in the National League having played 59 times in the division, so would not benefit in the same manner from a move into non-league football as Diamond, and Parkinson must realise that the winger’s potential needs an adequate stage now rather than later.
Sunderland were not the only side to have shown an interest in the attacker this summer, either, with reports Leeds, Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Portuguese side Braga were also in contention.
The Black Cats emerging triumphant and landing Hawkes was ultimately seen as a big deal, with Kevin Phillips telling Football Insider: “It just shows you still, as much as they’re still in League One, Sunderland are a big club.
“It’s good news to hear that after two or three of their best young players left the club.”