Sunderland forward reveals why he left the club this summer
When Sunderland’s squad was announced for their season opener against Coventry in July, Jack Diamond knew his short-term future lay elsewhere.
Yet, after being part of the Black Cats’ set-up during pre-season, there was no place for Diamond in the club’s first matchday squad for the new campaign.
There were options on the table, with Harrogate interested in re-signing their former winger, yet Diamond was ready to test himself at the next level.
Eventually, with just three days of the transfer window remaining, a deal was agreed with League One side Lincoln for the player to leave Wearside on another loan deal.
Since then Diamond has certainly made a positive impression at the LNER Stadium, scoring four goals in his first three league appearances, including a hat-trick against Bristol Rovers last time out.
Leaving Sunderland on loan again
“I always kind of knew that if I wasn’t going to play that I didn’t want to kind of sit around,” Diamond tells the Echo when asked about his decision to leave Sunderland.
“I think a loan was the best option if I wasn’t going to play. I gave my all in pre-season then I think it just kind of came to a point where I was looking and a few clubs were asking what was happening.
“When it came to the first game of the season and I wasn’t in the squad or anything it was kind of a question of when would be the right time.”
Still, while Sunderland were trying to bring in their own transfer targets, Diamond had to wait for his loan move to be sanctioned.
In the month that followed that match against Coventry, the winger played just four minutes in the Championship, while starting the Black Cats’ Carabao Cup game at Sheffield Wednesday.
Yet Sunderland were playing in a system which operated with a back three and wing-backs, meaning Diamond was being asked to play as a central striker rather than in his favoured wide position.
Waiting for a move
“Obviously the club has to protect what the club wants,” says Diamond when discussing the aforementioned period.
"There were a lot of clubs texting my agent saying what’s happening, am I going on loan, am I allowed to go out.
“It’s the club first so they have to wait and see what players they have in, where I might fit in as I might be needed.
“It’s just then kind of a conversation with everyone, just what would be the best thing for me and I think everyone was on board that a loan was the best way forward.”
On his role as a striker, Diamond adds: “I’d never really played there but obviously with my attributes and the system they weren’t really playing with wingers.
“It was kind of like learning a new position. Obviously I’d like to play out wide but playing is playing.
“Last season I played loads of games so you don’t want to come back and be in the same position, not playing and the team is not playing the formation where I’m going to realistically play.
“It was quite an easy call in the end.”
The decision to join Lincoln
So, with multiple clubs interested, why did Diamond feel Lincoln was the best option?
"I spoke to quite a few people and obviously I didn’t get to go out until quite late,” he replies. “It kind of just materialised when I was speaking to quite a few that Lincoln appealed.
"With their record of where their loan players are now and kind of how the manager (Mark Kennedy) spoke and how all the club spoke about the way they played. They sold it across really well.
“I think when it came to the final decision, they had what I needed.
“They showed me a lot of things on how they played and had a lot of clips on me and their system.
“The big one was seeing where their loan players have ended up now and I think they have a good record of bringing in loan players and them going on after and being successful.
“I think that was a big part of it and speaking to everyone there it seemed good.”
What the future holds
So, as someone who joined Sunderland’s academy aged 14, what does the future hold for Diamond, both for this season and on Wearside?
“I think I just try and take it a step at a time really and the most important thing is to keep going forward and then opportunities will come from there,” he says.
“If I keep improving as a player I will hopefully keep going up the levels and then just keep testing myself.
“If that’s going to be in the plans of Sunderland that would obviously be an ideal scenario but as long as I keep improving that’s the most important thing.”
And after scoring 13 goals and providing 6 assists in the league at Harrogate last season, this campaign is about repeating that at a higher level.
“When you are coming into a new team it’s about trying to be the best you can and playing all the time,” Diamond adds.
“I think last season was a good season for me in terms of goals, assists and putting in that end product which is obviously important for a winger now.
“I think I'm just trying to keep proving myself up the levels and just improving every season.”