Rising star: Ross praises standout Mumba

Bali Mumba is making a name for himself, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.

After grabbing the headlines on the final day of the 2017-18 season, Mumba picked up where he left off with an impressive display at Blackwell Meadows as Sunderland opened their pre-season schedule against Darlington.

The 16-year-old showed some nice touches, an impressive turn of pace and a good range of passing, but the way he dealt with the physical side of the game was equally as impressive.

And speaking after Tuesday's game, Jack Ross hailed the midfielder’s standout performance.

“The biggest positive tonight was Bali,” said the Sunderland manager.

“At 16 years old, he’s really forcing himself further and further into my thoughts.”

He continued: “We have to be careful because he’s still a boy, but he’s a really good player and I thought he handled himself and acquitted himself really well. 

“I was aware of his reputation and abilities before I came in, but you don’t really get feel for the players until you start working with them day in, day out.

“That’s a process that is still ongoing at the moment, but he’s really impressed me in training and when he played in Portugal, albeit in a training game, again he was really good.

“There was a physicality to the game tonight which was challenging, but I thought he coped with it really well and I thought he got better throughout his time on the pitch.

“It’s really encouraging for us because at 16, and in normal circumstances, we probably shouldn’t be considering him to be in and around the first-team squad, but he’s there on merit at the moment.

“If he continues to develop as he is, the likelihood is that he’ll be around the squad and that’s great for him.

“It’s a great opportunity for him and it’s good for me because he’s producing positive performances.”

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