Sunderland chief provides update on the future of Blackpool target Elliot Embleton
Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman has hinted the Black Cats will look to open contract talks with Elliot Embleton to fend off interest from Blackpool.
The Seasiders are keen to bring the 22-year-old back to Bloomfield Road on a permanent basis after he impressed on loan in League One last season.
The attacking midfielder made 21 appearances under Neil Critchley to help Pool win promotion to the Championship, having joined on loan during the January transfer window.
Embleton, a product of Sunderland’s academy, has since returned to his parent club and has impressed under Lee Johnson in pre-season.
The England Under-20 international has also been handed Sunderland’s number eight shirt for the upcoming season.
Speakman says Embleton, who only has a year left on his contract, is “desperate” to impress for his hometown club.
“We’ve been really pleased with Elliot,” Speakman told our sister paper, the Sunderland Echo.
“Elliot and I spent all of the transfer deadline in January making sure we got the right place for him and we worked really, really hard on that.
“It was a fantastic opportunity to get games at the right level and it has increased his value.
“He’s come back and done extremely well in pre-season and is someone who we think can be a huge player for us this season and in the future.
“We took the option up on his deal when he went out in January so he has a year left and that’s something that we’ll have a discussion on with him and his agent.
“I’ve spoken to Elliot a few times and he’s a Sunderland boy, desperate to play for the club, and like any young player he wants minutes on the pitch, he wants to play.
“Any club at our level, you need to see the performances as well. So at the minute, it’s just a conversation that we’ll get started in terms of wanting to retain him.”
Speakman added: “I think Elliot understands how much we appreciate and admire him at the club.
“He’s had a smashing period since he came back from that long injury, so he’s in a really, really good place.
“I do think he probably represents everything we want at the football club. Young players will have a different trajectory and path, some burst on at 17, some have a different route.
“But ultimately we want our young players out on the pitch playing for Sunderland and the more we have, the more affinity we have with the fans - and I think you get more out of those players because they have the bond with the community.”
Sunderland faced criticism from the club’s fans for loaning their player to a promotion rival.
Embleton ended up getting promoted with the Seasiders, while the Black Cats were beaten in the play-off semi-finals by Lincoln City.
Speakman defended the decision, however, and believes Embleton has returned to the North East a better player.
“In our philosophy, he probably fits the current direction of the club more than previously,” he added.
“One of the reasons we placed him at Blackpool was because we knew he would get the minutes and that he would therefore come back in a far stronger position.
“It probably went a bit too well in terms of he gets promotion but I just don’t see that as a negative.
“We could have let him go out to League Two and played games, but not moved on. I think that would have been negligent if we had done that.”
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