Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

First-Team Football Is Crucial as Kimpioka Looks Ahead

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

First-Team Football Is Crucial as Kimpioka Looks Ahead

Article excerpt

Byline: CRAIG JOHNS Football writer craig.johns@reachplc.com @craig_johns

bENJI Kimpioka is hoping to establish himself in the Sunderland first team after enjoying his breakthrough season on Wearside.

The talented young Swede made his first team debut last season and was regularly around Jack Ross' first team throughout the season.

He showed flashes of the quality that has previously attracted the interest of Arsenal in his nine firstteam appearances, although only two of them were starts - both coming in the Checkatrade Trophy.

The 19-year-old has just one year remaining on his Black Cats contract, though, and in wanting to avoid another situation like Josh Maja last season, chairman Stewart Donald has suggested he could be ostracised next season unless he commits his future to the club.

Kimpioka appears happy on Wearside though and told Swedish press of the season just gone: "A good year. You are never satisfied, always want to have more as a football player, but I take this year as a lesson for myself. Hopefully more will happen in the future.

"A good start. I am grateful for that."

If Kimpioka does commit his future to Sunderland then the dilemma will be whether to keep him around at the club, or loan him out to get regular football elsewhere.

Asked where he expects to be next season, Kimpioka says he would prefer to remain at Sunderland, but he will be only happy if he is playing.

He continued: "You get to see what happens. As it looks now, I remain in Sunderland, which I am happy about. As long as I play football I am happy."

Kimpioka was speaking after Sweden U21s' 3-1 victory over Norway, in which he made a big impact from the bench.

Brought on in the second half with the score at 1-1, Kimpioka scored Sweden's second somewhat fortuitously as his shot was deflected past the helpless goalkeeper. …

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