Sunderland’s Championship season has been a resounding success so far. Under the guidance of sporting director Kristjaan Speakman, they have built a young and talented squad that is now knocking on the door of the play-off places. The Black Cats’ impressive form this term can be attributed to a number of players, but one name that has stood out is Alex Pritchard.
The attacking midfielder has been in scintillating form for Tony Mowbray’s side and is currently the club’s second-highest-rated player on Sofascore, behind Ross Stewart. However, with Pritchard’s contract set to expire at the end of the 2023/24 season, Mowbray may already be thinking about a replacement.
One potential solution is to look within the Sunderland ranks and tap into their impressive Academy of Light. One player who stands out as a potential successor is 19-year-old Caden Kelly.
Kelly is a former Manchester City youth player who joined Sunderland’s U18 side during the 2020/21 campaign. Since then, he has excelled for the club’s youth sides, scoring and assisting on a regular basis. This term, the talented midfielder has taken his game to the next level and has been in sensational form for the U21 side.
With six goals and two assists to his name in 13 Premier League 2 appearances this season, Kelly is certainly a player to keep an eye on. He has been praised for his technical ability and potential to do great things in the game. This suggests that the midfielder is maturing and developing into a player who could take over from Pritchard when his contract runs out.
A loan move for Kelly next season could be the perfect opportunity to gain invaluable first-team experience and develop his game even further. This would put him in a strong position to make Mowbray’s squad in the 2023/24 campaign and potentially become a key player for Sunderland for years to come.
It remains to be seen whether Kelly will step up and fill Pritchard’s shoes, but the signs are certainly encouraging. If he can continue on his upward trajectory, then Sunderland may have found themselves a real gem.