Sunderland bounced back from three straight defeats in the Championship with an impressive 1-0 win away at Norwich at Carrow Road on Sunday.
Abdoullah Ba’s early goal from distance was enough to secure all three points for Tony Mowbray’s side as they dealt with a number of injury issues.
Amad Diallo, Corry Evans, Dennis Cirkin, Ross Stewart, Aji Alese, and Alex Pritchard were all unavailable for selection on the day and Luke O’Nien was pressed into service at left-back for the afternoon.
It was recently revealed that Alese is set to be out for the remainder of the campaign after suffering a thigh injury and this news comes as a big blow to the Black Cats as the youngster has been in terrific form this term.
The 22-year-old averaged a Sofascore rating of 6.96 across his 20 appearances in the Championship after joining the club from Premier League side West Ham United last summer.
Alese, who created 0.6 chances per game, made 3.1 tackles and interceptions per outing and won 54% of his individual duels in the division before being hit with this setback.
Against Norwich, Mowbray called up academy full-back Ellis Taylor to the bench and the U21s defender could be the club’s Alese 2.0 if given the opportunity to impress in the coming weeks and months.
Who is Ellis Taylor?
The 19-year-old is a Sunderland U21 left-back who has been converted into a defender after previously playing further up the pitch as a winger and attacking midfielder.
He spent the first half of the campaign on loan with Harrogate Town in League Two and mainly featured as a number ten or on the left wing but has since been utilised at left-back since returning to the Academy of Light.
Taylor has started in defence in his last five appearances in the Premier League 2 for the U21 side and chipped in with two goals and one assist, which shows that the gem has been able to use his attacking strengths to impact games from a full-back position.
In the EFL Trophy last term, the teenager made 1.7 key passes and 1.7 tackles and interceptions per game across three appearances – averaging a Sofascore rating of 6.97 – and this suggests that the dynamo has the potential to contribute at both ends of the pitch by winning the ball back for his side while also creating opportunities for his teammates.
The battler, who Kristjaan Speakman claimed has a “bright future“, has shown promise in his early time as a left-back and clearly impressed Mowbray enough to be entrusted with a place on the bench against the Canaries last weekend, which indicates that the manager sees potential in him.
Therefore, Taylor could be the next Alese to breakthrough as a young, English, left-back and make an impact on a regular basis in the Championship, if he is given the chance to do so.