Sunderland are working to tie Duncan Watmore down to a new deal, with the Black Cats prospect in the final 12 months of his contract.
Watmore has finally been given his opportunity in the Premier League this season after the 21-year-old has made three top flight appearances from the bench, which have earned him an England Under-21 call-up.
But Watmore’s future remains uncertain, with his deal at the Stadium of Light expiring next summer, albeit Sunderland would be owed compensation due to his age.
It is understood that Sunderland are keen to agree fresh terms with Watmore though, with the club increasingly keen to promote their homegrown players.
Dick Advocaat’s decision to leave Watmore out of the squad for Tuesday’s Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester City prompted plenty of question marks from supporters, after the forward had netted a hat-trick for the U21s against the same opposition 48 hours earlier.
But Advocaat DOES see Watmore as part of his plans and a key figure for the club moving forwards after recognising his natural finishing ability and hunger on the field.
Advocaat’s reservation is where to get the most out of Watmore, with the Sunderland boss viewing the ex-Altrincham man predominantly as a central striker, rather than a wideman, so he can use his pace in behind the opposition defence.
With Fabio Borini, Jermain Defoe, Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham also competing for that position - albeit Sheffield Wednesday want the latter on loan - Advocaat has a host of more proven options in that position.
That could prompt Sunderland to sanction Watmore’s departure to a Championship club on loan, if there is a chance for him to start competitive games regularly for a brief spell.
But Sunderland see Watmore, along with fellow academy graduates Jordan Pickford and Tom Beadling, as pivotal players in the future, with the Black Cats increasingly keen to promote from within.