With money tight and senior players leaving in their droves in recent transfer windows, Sunderland have been forced to rely heavily on youth. Fortunately, there is an array of exciting talent emerging at the Stadium of Light.
George Honeyman has been Sunderland’s captain this season, while Bali Mumba made his first-team bow at just 16. Denver Hume, meanwhile, looks like an excellent long-term option in either full-back position.
But Josh Maja has been the star of the show so far. The 19-year-old, a powerful centre-forward, has been Sunderland’s first-choice striker this season and he has rewarded manager Jack Ross with five goals in seven League One games, including the equaliser against Fleetwood Town on Saturday.
The worry, however, is that Maja is entering the final year of his contract. And, speaking to the Roker Report podcast, owner Stewart Donald has admitted that Sunderland need to raise money before they can hand the likes of Maja a new deal on improved terms.
Doing exactly that should be a priority. Because when a striker as young as Maja is scoring regularly in the Football League, that does not often go unnoticed. It seems only a matter of time before the academy graduate is attracting interest from Championship, even Premier League clubs.
After losing Joel Asoro to Swansea City, Sunderland must double their efforts to keep hold of Maja if the Black Cats are serious about building for the future.
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