His name might not yet be on too many lips, but Sunderland’s teenage defender Jacob Young is on a trajectory for the first team squad as he simultaneously grabs the attention of his country.
By
Dave Lewis

25 Feb 2019 - 5:21 PM  UPDATED 25 Feb 2019 - 5:21 PM

The son of Stuart Young, the English-born former Perth Glory striker once on the books of Arsenal, Jacob - who turns 19 next month - is in his third season on Wearside and a regular starter for the fallen but fast resuscitating north-east giants’ Under-23’s.

With the Black Cats on course for a quick rebound to the Championship after the calamity of a two-season nosedive from the Premier League, Young often trains with the first team and is being monitored closely by head coach Jack Ross.

He is also knocking on the door of the Young Socceroos, having attended a training camp in Indonesia last year prior to the issuing of his Australian citizenship.

Though born in Wollongong, the ex-Perth Glory junior only had permanent resident status until recently, with bureaucratic red tape then holding up his citizenship before the FFA stepped in to help expedite the process.

But it’s his club future which is of most pressing importance, with Young senior saying the ball-playing 195cm centre-back - who has a year left on his contract - has found the rigors of proving himself in England “a real eye opener”.

“Like all kids coming from reasonably comfortable background in Australia it’s a big transition,” he said.

“It’s sometimes tough to be objective because he’s your own kid, but look he’s a composed left-footed centre-half.

“He’s very good on the ball and physically he’s been developing and is becoming a man.

“Mentally, there’s also being a hardening period around the demands of being a professional, particularly in a place like England.

“If he’s going to push for the first team he will be pushing in the not too distant future.”

There is also the possibility of going out on loan to a fellow EFL club, though for the time being Sunderland want him to stay put.

He’s yet to make a League One matchday squad, but has been on the bench for two Checktrade Trophy ties, the competition which ultimately leads to a Wembley final.

“The next pre-season will be crucial for him,” dad Stuart said.

“He’ll be looking to be in and around the first team then.

“Sunderland have had a difficult period, but they have new owners who are a lot more engaged and understand what it means to the supporters.”

In the third tier of English football, Sunderland are still averaging a tick over 30,000 at each home match and the Boxing Day clash against Bradford City attracted to 46,000 to the Stadium of Light.

“Jacob had options to go to other clubs but he always felt Sunderland was the best place for him to develop, and I was more than happy with that decision,” added Stuart, whose career stops included Northampton, Scunthorpe and Wollongong Wolves.

“In so many respects, it’s absolutely the perfect place for him.”