Jack Ross says Sunderland are set to step up their efforts to secure Bali Mumba on a new contract.
Mumba turned 17 yesterday, meaning he can now sign professional terms at the club he has represented right through the Academy set-up.
The youngster made his debut from the bench on the final day of last season, as the Black Cats beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0.
He then started the first two league games of the season but the arrival of Max Power, the fitness of Dylan McGeouch and the form of Lee Cattermole has seen his playing time reduced..
Ross has continued to be impressed by his quality and temperament, however, and says he was planning to use him in the games against Peterborough United and Bradford City last week.
A call up to the England U18 squad means he is one of 14 players set to miss the Checkatrade clash against Carlisle United but more first team action this season looks likely.
“There’d been a plan in place for [a new contract],” Ross said. “Now that he’s turning 17 they’re able to progress that and hopefully, like the other ones, we’ll be able to do that.
“His involvement with us on pretty much a weekly basis shows how much I think of him.
“He’s been a little bit unfortunate in the last couple of games not to come on, to be honest, just because of how those games went. He’s been training really well. He had a little bit of a dip but then kicked on again, which was brilliant for us to see.
“He was very much in my thoughts for the Peterborough and Bradford games.
“Not just in terms of being on the bench but in my planning for getting him on the pitch.
“But the way the games have went, the changes we had to make, it wasn’t quite right for him. He’d have played tomorrow but at his age it’s important for him to go away with England and have that recognition.
"It means an awful lot to him, he was really chuffed when he get his first U18s call up last time,” Ross added.
“He wants to keep doing that all the way through, It never for a second came into my head for him not to be involved.”