Benji Kimpioka’s ‘off the cuff’ style of play is something that must always be encouraged, according to under-23 boss Elliott Dickman.
The Swedish youth international has made headlines this season, featuring for the first-team and bagging his latest goal in Sunderland’s 4-0 win over Newcastle United under-23s in the Checkatrade Trophy last month.
A first-year professional, Kimpioka has been at the club since he was 16 and graduated to the club’s second string in the summer following the completion of his two-year scholarship.
Marking his first start for Jack Ross’ side against Carlisle United with a goal, Kimpioka’s unpredictable style has seen him earn a lot of praise from staff and fans, with Dickman admitting that’s what makes his game special.
Speaking to safc.com ahead of Sunderland under-23s’ Premier League Cup trip to Charlton Athletic, kick-off 7pm at the DGS Stadium, Dickman highlighted just how the 18-year-old has made major improvements to his game over the last couple of seasons.
“Benji is the kind of player who plays off the cuff,” he said.
“You can talk to players all you want about certain patterns of play, certain runs you might make but I think Benji is very much off the cuff when we have the ball.
“Sometimes it works well and sometimes he makes poor decisions. That’s one area we are challenging him on, and I think he will get that as he develops and matures.
“The big thing really about Benji is that he wasn’t great when we didn’t have the ball. His positional play wasn’t great either because he never really understood where he needed to be or what he needed to do.
“He has been in the building now for two and a half years, sometimes it maybe takes that for players to really settle into it,” he continued.
“In his last match for the under-23s – last week against Stoke City – he had a real control about him and he affected our pattern of play.
“With the ball, Benji is just Benji. We don’t want to coach anything out of him because he can win a game just by receiving it and running at a defence.”