Phil Parkinson is at risk of making a naïve call over the involvement of Sunderland prospect Benji Kimpioka, after stating that the Under 23s talent will have to wait a little longer for his chance in the first-team.
Kimpioka has been in fine form in the Black Cats’ youth set-up this season with a hand in two goals in two Premier League 2 fixtures, having finally resolved his contract situation with a one-year deal following a long-running saga that saw the 20-year-old initially leave Wearside.
The striker had departed the North East whilst his agent held discussions with a number of different sides, but prioritised remaining in England rather than returning to his homeland of Sweden.
His return is yet to see Parkinson favour the young starlet for any of the Black Cats’ League One fixtures, and the Sunderland boss is not planning to change his thinking against Gillingham on Saturday or Ipswich in his side’s next two matches.
“They’ll definitely get opportunities [in the cup games],” Parkinson said, via quotes by the Sunderland Echo, when asked when he will offer the academy players a chance. “We’ve also got senior players who haven’t had a great many opportunities of late, as well.
Should Parkinson bring Kimpioka into the first-team?
Yes, he has the potential
No, he isn’t good enough
“The young players have had a reasonable integration in terms of the pre-season and the Trophy games, and there’s another couple coming up after the next two league games.”
Kimpioka’s talents had previously sparked interest from Premier League Arsenal in 2017 when the Gunners sought a £5million double swoop involving the striker and teammate Joel Asoro, though the U21 international has struggled to take his career to another level in the three years since.
Former Sunderland boss Jack Ross responded to Kimpioka’s agent demanding that his client is involved in the first-team last year by suggesting he had not seen enough progress from the 20-year-old to warrant a promotion, despite seeing the striker snub the offer of a new deal.
“It’s straightforward for me,” Ross stated, via quotes by the Chronicle. “The truth is that Benji has been offered a contract – a good contract – and to date he has chosen not to sign it.
“That’s the player’s choice and the player’s representatives’ choice, but let’s not allow anything else to cloud that. I would like Benji to stay at the club, I think he has potential, the club has offered him a good contract, we feel, for a player that to date has some potential but has not achieved anything in his career so far.”
Parkinson now has the perfect opportunity to offer Kimpioka the chance to display his potential on the senior stage, rather than waiting to join his fellow U23s prospects in the cup competitions, with Sunderland forwards Charlie Wykes (three) and Chris Maguire (two) the only men to have struck home more than once in League One this term.
Sunderland are crying out for offensive reinforcements after a mostly barren start to the campaign, and Parkinson must realise that Kimpioka’s aspirations will bring youthful enthusiasm to his frontline that goalless summer signing Danny Graham cannot.
If Parkinson persists with only awarding Kimpioka minutes in the EFL Trophy and EFL Cup, then he risks the Black Cats enjoying the same drawn-out saga next summer as there will be no evidence to justify the forward agreeing to the club activating their one-year option.
AND in other news, a “brilliant” Sunderland ace has left Phil Parkinson with an easy decision amid his injury fears.
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