Lee Johnson and Jack Diamond react after Sunderland youngster signs new contract
Lee Johnson hailed Jack Diamond's continuing improvement after the 21-year-old signed a new long-term deal at the club.
Diamond broke through into the first-team group at the start of this season after shining on loan in Harrogate Town's promotion from the National League.
After initially operating as a back up wing-back for Phil Parkinson, Diamond's gametime has increased in a more natural wing role under Johnson and he is now under contract until summer 2024.
A superb display at Lincoln City marked his breakthrough under the new Head Coach and he has been a regular in squads since then.
He played a particularly key role in the Papa John's Trophy final win over Tranmere, helping his side protect their 1-0 lead with a vibrant counter-attacking display.
Johnson said the youngster is 'getting stronger by the day'.
"I’m delighted for Jack that he has signed a new contract," Johnson said.
"This is just the start for him – he has fantastic potential and some great attributes, and his performances are getting stronger and stronger as the days go by. We are very excited about Jack’s future with Sunderland AFC."
Diamond said his goal was to play 'at the highest level I possibly can' for the club.
“I’ve been here since I was 14, so to be offered the chance to play for Sunderland – when they are on the up – is a fantastic opportunity for me," he said.
"I’ve broken into the first team this season under the new Head Coach and I’m pleased to be rewarded with a new contract, but my goal stays the same and that’s to play at the highest level I possibly can with this club.”
The news will be a welcome sign to supporters that the club is getting to grips with the major contract decisions ahead.
A significant proportion of the current squad see their deals come to an end this summer, though in some cases the club are thought to have the option to extend.
Many of those calls will be dependent on what division Sunderland find themselves in next season, but Diamond's new deal shows Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman moving to protect some key assets in the squad.