It looked like Tom Beadling would never play for Sunderland when he joined Dunfermline on a six-month loan deal in the January transfer window.
The 22-year-old has been with the Black Cats since the age of eight but, despite being comfortably out of his teenage years, has never made a first-team appearance for the Wearside giants.
And with his contract at the Stadium of Light set to expire at the end of this season, it seemed that a spell at Dunfermline had ended his hopes of pulling on those red and white stripes.
But if Beadling, who spent a number of years in Australia as a child and was called up for a Socceroos U20 camp in 2013, continues to impress in Scotland’s second tier, it would be unfair to suggest that there was no chance he could earn a new deal.
Beadling made an impressive start to life with the Pars, scoring in a 2-1 defeat to Greenock Morton before standing out in the goalless draw at Livingston at the weekend.
In the meantime, Sunderland have let far too many academy products leave in recent years without giving them a chance, including Conor Hourihane and Josh Egan (below), both of whom are impressing in the Championship at rival clubs.
And the Black Cats will need new defenders in the summer regardless of whether or not they avoid relegation to League One with Lamine Kone certain to go, John O’Shea well past his best and Jake Clarke-Salter only on loan from Chelsea.
Lacking the funds for new additions, academy graduates should be crucial for Sunderland. Which means they should keep a close eye on Beadling.
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