Tal­ented teen Bali is prov­ing he is a real all-rounder

The Chronicle - - Safc - By STU­ART RAYNER Foot­ball writer stu­[email protected]­plc.com @stu­rayner

BALI Mumba is con­cen­trat­ing on be­com­ing “an all-round player” rather than ty­ing him­self down to any one po­si­tion.

In the early stages of his Sun­der­land ca­reer, the 17-year-old has been used as a cen­tral mid­fielder but on Tues­day he showed an­other side to his game.

Not only did Mumba play at right wing-back in the Foot­ball League Tro­phy win over Notts County, he was the best player on the pitch.

Mumba has played right-back for Eng­land’s age-group teams and cen­tre-back for Sun­der­land’s.

Adam Matthews looks se­cure as the Black Cats’ first-choice right­back but, with Don­ald Love and Den­ver Hume in­jured, they have an­other op­tion was the Welsh­man to be un­avail­able.

For Mumba, it is just about get­ting as much time on the pitch as pos­si­ble while he learns his game.

When asked what his best po­si­tion was, he replied: “Many peo­ple have asked me that and I don’t have an an­swer.

“I am just an all-round player, I would say - mid­field, full-back, I am not re­ally too fussed as long as I gain the ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I want to be a player who is able to play in dif­fer­ent po­si­tions.

“If the gaffer gives me a task to do, I just want to be able to do it for the team and get on with it, not wor­ry­ing about it not be­ing my po­si­tion, just to have that mind­set of ‘this is my job.’”

Man­ager Jack Ross ex­plained Mumba’s po­si­tion in the 2-0 win over Notts County was more about just hav­ing as many of those who needed game time on the field for as long as pos­si­ble.

He said: “It just al­lowed him to ex­pe­ri­ence what it is like to play an­other first-team game.

“He did it for Eng­land Un­der-18s and when he was younger.

“There were loads of dif­fer­ent rea­sons for do­ing it the other night - it fit­ted with the per­son­nel we had avail­able, he was ca­pa­ble of play­ing that role and then it was just gan­ing him ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing it there.

“You just don’t know what lies ahead and the great thing for me as a man­ager is ev­ery time the play­ers have had an op­por­tu­nity to say, ‘Yeah, I can do that,’ they have not re­ally let me down.

“As a man­ager that helps me mov­ing for­ward when the squad might be stretched.”

An­other as­pect Mumba wants to add to his game is goalscor­ing and he missed out on a first se­nior goal when his shot was blocked late in Tues­day’s 2-0 win.

He added: “I was gut­ted about that but it is com­ing. I be­lieve that, I have faith. I just need to keep push­ing and I know my time will come.

“I just need to keep work­ing hard and see what hap­pens.

“Def­i­nitely next time I be­lieve it will be dif­fer­ent.”

With Ge­orge Honey­man ex­pected to re­turn from in­jury, Mumba was likely to find him­self back on the bench for this af­ter­noon’s League One trip to Accrington Stan­ley - but he is highly-rated by Ross and clearly has a big fu­ture at the Sta­dium of Light.

Bali Mumba

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