January fate of Sunderland duo to be sealed in next couple of weeks

Kevin Ball expects a decision on Ethan Robson’s short-term future at Sunderland to be made within the next month.

The midfielder joined Grimsby Town on a half-season loan in August and, with that arrangement set to come to an end in early January, Phil Parkinson will have to decide whether the 23-year-old is ready for first-team involvement.

Robson’s current contract is also set to expire in the summer and while a decision on that is likely still some time away, Ball - who is managing the club’s outgoing loans - expects some short-term clarity soon.

“That decision is down to our manager,” he said.

Sunderland midfielder Ethan Robson Sunderland midfielder Ethan Robson
Sunderland midfielder Ethan Robson
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“Ethan’s loan will finish just after the new year, so he gets the new year games in.

“From Ethan’s point of view, he went to Dundee and embraced it. Was that a challenging move for him? Of course it was, because it’s not exactly on his doorstep.

“Then he’s gone to Grimsby this year. There’s been a period of it where he’s done exceptionally well and, understandably, a change in tactics may be the reason he’s been coming off.

“At the age Ethan is at he needs to get games under his belt. At 22, 23, most players have started getting those games.

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“The decision will be made by the senior management in the next month or so as to what they do with him.

“It could be that they bring him back and say ‘can you improve our midfield?’.

“It might be that he comes back and then goes out on loan again, but that’s a decision the manager will have to make.

“While I may give him my thoughts, the decision is his.”

And the Sunderland legend also hinted that youngster Bali Mumba may be allowed to continue his development on Wearside - with the teenager having previously been tipped for a loan move.

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“I look at Bali - in terms of positional wise there’s still a question as to where he fits in best,” explained Ball.

“The biggest thing we can do for him is what we’re doing at the moment, which is playing him in a position regularly and giving him as much coaching in that position as necessary.”