Wolves youngster Dion Sanderson ready to climb the leagues
Sanderson, of Wednesfield, has received rave reviews amid pressure from the Black Cats for promotion to League One.
The versatile defender has said he sees himself “definitely” in the Premier League in the future, and hopefully with Wolves.
James Hunter, Sunderland writer for the Newcastle Chronicle since 1999, believes it’s a realistic goal as well, having been mightily impressed by the 21-year-old’s displays in recent months.
“He’s been brilliant lately,” Hunter said.
“It was a bit of a slow start for him and he only started a few games in the first half of the season, under Phil Parkinson.
“Wolves were frustrated with his lack of starts, but one of the first things Lee Johnson did when he took office in December was to make it clear that Dion was a big part of his plans.
“He really got into the starting lineup from February, and it coincided with Sunderland’s best run of the season.
“He was absolutely exceptional. They faced him in several different positions – right-back and even left-back for one game – but the vast majority were in central defense.
“He played in a two and in the middle of a three, and he looked great.
Johnson said he was a ‘Rolls Royce’ player. He’s good for a catchy quote like this, but most Sunderland fans would agree with that assessment, to be honest with you. looked a class apart.
Olympian Tessa’s nephew Sanderson has only one Wolves first-team appearance under his belt – at Villa in the Carabao Cup last season.
But he has long distinguished himself in the academy and also enjoyed a productive spell in Cardiff at the end of last season, playing mainly as a right-back.
Hunter says he also thrived against physical and experienced heads on Wearside.
“He looked really strong and powerful,” Hunter said. “He’s still got a ways to go as he’s only 21 but from what I’ve seen as he matures physically he could continue playing in the Premier League for Wolves.
“He also has a good temperament. He doesn’t get drawn into finicky little battles with attackers or take silly reservations.
“He’s good enough that he doesn’t have to get involved in that sort of thing, that hand-to-hand combat – of which there’s a lot in League One, by the way.
“Speed of thought is everything when you’re going up the football pyramid, and he reads the game faster than, I’d say, 90% of Ligue 1 center-backs.
“That’s what will mark him and why his stay in League One will only be temporary.
“He’s definitely good enough to play in the league, and probably the Premier League. “
Sanderson’s current contract with Wolves expires in the summer of 2022, and a return to Nuno Espirito Santo’s squad this summer before deciding on the next step in his development appears to be on the cards.
He also aims to break through properly with his “childhood club”.
On what the future might hold for Sanderson, Hunter added, “There comes a time when a young player has to play men’s football, and he certainly did in League One, against some crafty old pros.
“It was a great school for him. Next season, in an ideal world, he would want to return to Wolves and be in and around the first team.
“There is some pretty tough competition out there, of course, though, and Wolves will probably want to strengthen themselves further.
“He could be loaned to the Championship and hopefully if he helps Sunderland win promotion he could even end up there.
“Lee Johnson believes in him. Another season in Sunderland – if in the championship – could be good for everyone. “