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Four goals in last three games: Could Luke Molyneux be Sunderland’s unlikely hero?

The 20-year-old has been in fine form for the Sunderland under-23s.

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Sunderland are still fighting to stay in the Championship. An improvement in performances has seen them lose just once in their last five games. Unfortunately, they have drawn their last three games, all three fixtures in which they could have taken all three points.

Therefore, Sunderland are still bottom of the league table and six points off of safety with just three games left to play.

So should the Black Cats consider throwing in one of their in-form under-23 players?

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

The player in question is attacking midfielder Luke Molyneux. The 20-year-old, who can also play on the wing, has been in sublime form recently. That form continued this weekend.

The young attacker scored twice in the 4-1 win against Leicester City this afternoon. That followed another brace against Everton in a 2-1 win – taking his tally to four goals in his last three appearances.

His excellent form has helped pull Sunderland out of the relegation zone in the Premier League 2 Division One. Could he do it for the first-team?

Sunderland have certainly improved their performances, but bringing in someone who is in such great form could be a masterstroke from Chris Coleman.

Molyneux could be an impact sub for the Black Cats in the final three games of the season and could bring his current goalscoring knack into the first-team.

(Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Regardless of whether Sunderland decide to give him a shot in the first-team or not, his form is certainly looking good enough to warrant a new contract.

He is one of many at Sunderland whose contracts expire in the summer, but given his fine recent form surely he will be retained when the lists are announced next month?

If that is the case, perhaps this season will come along too soon for Molyneux. But if Sunderland do drop into League One, the attacker might have a better chance of playing regular first-team football at the Stadium of Light.

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Championship

Leeds United target Gavin Whyte wins Ulster Player of the Year

The Northern Irish winger is all set for a move this summer after 24-goal season.

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Leeds United are already being linked with a host of names ahead of the summer. The Whites need to make improvements all over the pitch after their promotion challenge dramatically fell away in 2018. One name being linked with a move to West Yorkshire is that of Northern Irish winger Gavin Whyte.

The 22-year-old has had a fine season in the NIFL Premiership. The Crusaders star has scored 24 goals for the club in 43 games in all competitions – attracting the interest of Leeds with such impressive figures and displays.

Now he has a prestigious award to add to his season’s accolades. Last night saw Whyte named the Ulster Player of the Year for his performances this campaign and few could argue he was a deserving recipient of the award.

Again, after the award, the Belfast Telegraph spoke of Leeds United’s interest in signing him, even stating ‘a dream move to Leeds United is on the cards’ in their report.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

It would indeed be a dream move for the Crusaders star, who would team up with countryman and fellow former Crues winger Stuart Dallas if the move became a reality.

This weekend is the final day of the Northern Irish season and Crusaders take on Ballymena United. A win against the league’s bottom side would secure the title for Whyte’s side and could be seen as a perfect sign off for Whyte. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph he stated:

“I’ve enjoyed this season the most and you can see that in my performances. I’ve scored 24 goals and that’s the most I’ve scored in any season. I’m really enjoying my football and I’ll see where it takes me.”

Leeds United look to have challengers for his signing. Belfast Live has reported that several other clubs are also looking at the player and in the past Dundee United, Everton and Celtic have all shown an interest in the young winger.

So if Leeds are serious about signing Whyte, they should move in quickly after the final game of the season this weekend.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa will be rewarded for their patience by holding onto young defender

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Photo: Getty Images.

Signed in January on loan from Manchester United, it’s fair to say that Axel Tuanzebe has not quite lived up to expectations at Villa Park with only five league appearances since moving to Birmingham.

The full-back has completed 90 minutes only once since his loan signing and is yet to impress Steve Bruce sufficiently to earn a regular spot in the side, having made back to back starts only once.

Despite that, The Sun say that it is likely that regardless of whether the Villans are promoted or not in the summer, Tuanzebe will remain on loan at Aston Villa next season.

The reports suggest that he will join Manchester United for their pre-season tour of the US for Jose Mourinho to re-evaluate the defender, who he gave a Premier League debut to in May 2017, before opting to send him out on loan.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

That a host of top flight and second tier clubs are still interested despite him not convincing for Villa says a lot about Tuanzebe’s potential. Steve Bruce is a good judge of player potential too, and if he is keen to retain his services then it is for a reason.

Strong in the tackle yet quick, Tuanzebe did not look out of place among the elite when he made his United debut against Arsenal and has not many any clear errors whilst on loan at Villa either.

By sticking with their man, Villa will reap the rewards in the long-term. At Championship level with a full pre-season and regular football behind him, Tuanzebe could easily stake his claim and begin to fulfill his potential.

If Villa are promoted, it’s hard to see how Tuanzebe will become first choice, but he will come cheap and is certainly an interesting option to have amongst the ranks.

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Derby County

Thriving in America, ex-Derby star Johnny Russell deserves a Scotland recall

The forward has been in fine form since his move to MLS.

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Johnny Russell
Photo: Getty Images

Johnny Russell has been setting Major League Soccer on fire this spring, most recently bagging a hat-trick against Vancouver Whitecaps on the weekend to take his goal tally to five in eight matches.

Russell controversially left Derby County for Sporting Kansas City in January, but his impressive form in America should convince Alex McLeish to recall the 28-year-old to the Scotland set-up.

After 182 appearances and 30 goals over five years at Pride Park, the winger departed England for a shock move to Sporting Kansas City in MLS.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The winger had scored five goals and provided two assists in the first half of the 2017/18, yet left the Rams just 12 days after playing 90 minutes in their 0-0 draw with Bristol City in late January.

Yet the Scot has been thriving across the Atlantic and showed his devastating finishing qualities during Kansas City’s 6-0 demolition of Vancouver on 20 April.

Russell’s first goal was a lashed first-time finish from the edge of the box after receiving an intelligent cutback, and just six minutes later he had doubled his goal haul.

The winger cut in with precision from the left wing and drove past multiple defenders before slotting home a low drive at the near post. It was a wonderful individual goal that was a fine reward for his rampant opening quarter of the match.

(Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

And his third goal was perhaps the pick of the bunch. Russell took a short corner from the right wing, exchanged a one-two and delicately chipped the ball from a tight angle over the keeper.

The 28-year-old’s sublime hat-trick is evidence of his unique talents, and although his exploits have come in a weakened league, they are deserving of praise nonetheless.

With upcoming away friendlies approaching in Peru and Mexico in late May, McLeish should strongly consider granting Russell his first cap since 2015.

Given the geographic proximity and the winger’s outstanding form, Johnny Russell seems set to feature for his country in the midst of his American revival.

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