Youngster steps into profile spotlight.
Die-hard Sunderland fan Ross Holland is looking to make his own way at the club he has supported since the age of five.
Holland regularly took in games with his dad in the North East Corner at the Stadium of Light while playing his football with local sides Riverside FC and then Fulwell.
The winger, who also plays in midfield, played alongside current team-mates Callum Hope and Carl Lawson with Fulwell, where he made his first step towards joining the club he’s always idolized.
“Fulwell have a good track record and in the season before I left we won the League Cup, County Cup and the League itself,” he said.
“I played in a tournament with Fulwell and was invited to come to Sunderland after that.
“Elliott Dickman was my first coach and he’s always been there as I’ve come through.”
After joining as an under-14, Holland, who hails from Birtley, made rapid progress and was offered a two-year scholarship with the club, starting in July 2011.
He made 22 appearances in all for Kevin Ball’s side in 2011-12, scoring four goals after adjusting to the differences between school and full-time football.
“I really enjoyed my first season, though it was harder than I expected coming in and training full time.
“The change from being at school and only training a few days a week hit my physically, but as soon as I got to grips with it, it was great.
“I’m enjoying my football but I also enjoy the college side of things as well.”
He continued: “I got a lot of starts last season, which I didn't expect. Everyone gets their chance here which is a really good thing.”
Now he is looking forward to another productive season under new coach Craig Liddle, who joined the club after several spells as caretaker manager at Darlington.
Holland’s versatility means he can slot into a number of positions and he’s hoping to make an impression again this time around.
“I always played on the right or left wing in the past, but since I’ve come here I’ve also been playing in a more central role behind the striker, as well as a few games in central midfield,” he explained.
“The season seems to be going well so far and I like Craig Liddle who is a very good coach.
“Hopefully I can get more games under my belt this season and my other aim is to push into the development squad.”