‘Do get burnt out’: Sunderland teammate issues Jobe Bellingham warning after brilliant start to the season

Dan Neil discusses Jobe Bellingham’s impressive start to the season at Sunderland following the teenager’s summer transfer from Birmingham City.

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Dan Neil says people need to remember Jobe Bellingham is still only a teenager and may need a rest in the coming weeks despite his impressive start to the season.

Bellingham, 18, has started all 14 league games for Sunderland this term and played three times for England’s under-19s team during last month’s international break. After arriving from Birmingham over the summer, the midfielder has already played more minutes in the Championship this season (1,098) than during the last whole of the last campaign (598), when he made 17 Championship appearances including just five starts.

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When asked about Bellingham’s performances and workload since joining Sunderland, Neil said: “I kind of know that from my first year playing first-team football in League One, although you don’t want to get taken out of the side and want to keep playing, you do get burnt out when you are young and you’re playing.

“I think everyone just needs to remember, he’s been brilliant so far this season, but people need to remember he’s 18-years-old and there are not many 18-year-old lads that can get through games week in, week out like he is doing.

“The three games a week, I still find the three games a week tough on the legs and Jobe is three years younger than me. Somebody told me the other day he’s played more minutes this season than he did the whole of last season. He just needs to keep it going, focus on the off the field stuff, the recovery, and I’m sure he’ll be fine.”

After being suspended for Sunderland’s Championship game at Stoke last month, Neil returned to the Black Cats’ starting XI for matches against Leicester and Norwich, where he partnered Pierre Ekwah in midfield.

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Ekwah, 21, has also come back into the side recently after missing five matches with a dead leg, which followed his outstanding performance in Sunderland’s 5-0 win over Southampton, with the Frenchman scoring twice in that game at the Stadium of Light.

“Yeah he’s brilliant,” replied Neil when asked about his midfield partner. “He’s got all the attributes to be a top, top midfielder. Left foot, big, powerful, can strike a ball, scores from the edge of the box like we’ve seen this season.

“The dead leg kind of came at not a good time for him because he was finding his rhythm. He looks back up to speed and looked really, really good against Norwich. I love playing in midfield with him because he’s always looking to fire balls through the lines and if I’m not on he’ll hit the switch and it’s a chance for me to get in the box. We are developing a good partnership, me, him and Jobe and we just need to keep going.”

Sunderland are preparing for Saturday’s Championship fixture at Swansea, before a home fixture against Birmingham City which will lead into this month’s international break.

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