Jack Ross has conceded that he still doesn’t know Bali Mumba’s best position. As reported by The Chronicle, Ross is working with the youth coaches at Sunderland to find out where Mumba should be played in the future.
The teenager has already played a handful of first-team games and even captained the senior side. But Sunderland are unsure on whether he is better at right-back, centre-back or as a defensive midfielder.
Mumba has played nine senior games for Sunderland and Ross rates him highly. The England U19 international is currently away on international duty, which might give Ross some clues about his preferred position.
Speaking about the Mumba conundrum, Ross said (via The Chronicle): “I think it’s a challenge for Elliot (Dickman, Sunderland’s under-23 coach) and Michael (Proctor, his assistant) because we’ve had conversations about making sure we identify that and making him the best he can possibly be in that area.
“I know they’ve been pleased with how he’s performed at full-back recently and he played there earlier in his academy career.”
Mumba burst onto the scene as a central midfielder but Sunderland are well-stocked in that department. With George Dobson joining in the summer and Elliot Embleton returning from Grimsby Town, Sunderland’s central midfielder options have been boosted again.
If Mumba is looking for an immediate jump into first-team contention, then right-back might be his best option. It would allow Luke O’Nien to return to the midfield and it would be a straight battle with Conor McLaughlin.
The 17-year-old might struggle to carve out a career as a central defender in senior football, though. While he is tenacious, he simply doesn’t have the physical attributes to compete with some strikers.