This is why EFL club want to send back on-loan winger to Sunderland

Hartlepool United will explore the option of sending loanee Ellis Taylor back to his parent club Sunderland with manager Keith Curle unable to assure him of enough first team opportunities after revealing he does not know his best position.

Taylor joined Hartlepool on a season-long loan deal in the summer under previous manager Paul Hartley after impressing against Pools for Sunderland in a pre-season friendly back in July.

Taylor, a boyhood Hartlepool fan, admitted it was ‘a dream come true’ to join the club on loan having enjoyed a successful spell for the Black Cats under-21s team last season.

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But despite being handed his League Two debut for Hartlepool in the opening day defeat at Walsall, the 19-year-old has struggled to gain regular involvement under both Hartley and new manager Curle since his arrival in September.

Hartlepool United's Ellis Taylor battles for possession with Morecambe's Shane McLoughlin during the EFL Trophy match between Morecambe and Hartlepool United at the Globe Arena. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

Since starting against Walsall in July, Taylor has featured for little over 30 minutes in League Two, with his only other starts coming in the League Cup defeat at Blackburn Rovers and the Papa Johns Trophy ties with Morecambe and Everton under-21s.

It has resulted in the 19-year-old returning to Wearside to, again, feature for the Black Cats’ academy side with manager Graeme Murty admitting the club has 'a duty of care' to ensure Taylor ‘continues his development pathway.’

And that may see Taylor return to the Stadium of Light on a permanent basis with Curle suggesting it would be for the betterment of his career after conceding to The Mail he remains unsure as to how to get the best out of Taylor in a Hartlepool squad sitting bottom of the League Two table.

“I’ll hold my hands up. I need to speak to Sunderland,” Curle told The Mail.

Ellis Taylor has featured a number of times for Sunderland under-21s in recent weeks when missing out with Hartlepool United. Picture by FRANK REID

“I know Ray [Murphy] is going to speak to them but I will speak to Sunderland as well and say this is my take on it: We’ve got one of your players, he’s come out on loan to gain experience but he hasn’t gained that experience and he’s not gaining that experience.

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“I spoke to Ellis about it and told him there’s no point in you being here if you’re not going to play games. You need to go back to your parent football club and reintegrate there and if an opportunity comes up to go out on loan and play games elsewhere you’ve got to take it.”

When asked why things haven't worked out for Taylor at the Suit Direct Stadium, Curle added: “It might be me being too honest, Ellis is a technically gifted player but I don’t know which is his best position. Is it on the left? Is it on the right? Is it as a No.10? Is it as a No.8?

“I think he’s got the footballing ability to look comfortable in any training session but then it’s where will I get the best out of him in a game? What is his end product? Is he going to be going past full-backs and putting crosses in? Is he going to be cutting inside and having shots or linking up play? Is he going to be driving from the midfield?

Ellis Taylor has rarely featured for Hartlepool United since his loan move from Sunderland. (Credit: Tom West | MI News)
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“Ellis is a player who you can understand why he’s been brought in because of his excellent ball mastery, but I don't see a role with him and I don’t understand where I’m going to get the best out of him week in, week out and playing games.”

Despite suggestions from Curle there was a break clause in the loan agreement, that appears not to be the case - such is Curle’s desire to speak with the Championship club.

It comes after Taylor himself had hinted his time at the Suit Direct Stadium had come to an end when posting on social media: “It was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

“An honour every time I put the shirt on. It didn’t go to plan for me but is a massive learning curve for my footballing journey.

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“I wish the club all the best for the rest of the season. I know that we have enough in that dressing room to change things around.”

Curle added on the situation: “It’s an opportunity for me to apologise to Sunderland because I got it wrong. Unfortunately we haven’t got the ability within the agreement to send him back so I need to have a conversation with Sunderland.

"If Ellis has got to stay here then Ellis stays here, but for the betterment of his career, in my opinion, he needs to go out and get games for the next six months of this season.

“He hasn’t been sent back with his tail between his legs. He’s been an excellent person to train and play with, he just hasn’t had the game time that I think his career deserves now.”

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Taylor has made eight appearances in total for Hartlepool and was not part of the match day squad for the recent 5-0 defeat against Stockport County after Curle confirmed his intentions.

The teenager has made a number of appearances for Sunderland under-21s as part of the loan agreement in order to gain more minutes this season, including in the 1-1 draw with Newcastle United under-21s in October.

Taylor also captained the young Black Cats in their Premier League Cup defeat to Cardiff City recently as uncertainties remained over his Hartlepool future.

Curle was in attendance at Newcastle's under-21s fixture with Sheffield United last week, where 20-year-old midfielder Joe White featured, adding to speculation surrounding Taylor’s future and whether the club are on the lookout for a potential replacement next month.