JEWISON BENNETTE is yet to return from international duty with Costa Rica – with Tony Mowbray determined to continue to tread carefully with the teenager despite his successes on both the domestic and international stages this month.
Bennette made a huge impression as he scored Sunderland’s equaliser in the 2-2 draw with Watford that preceded the international break, and continued his fine form with his national side as he scored both of Costa Rica’s goals in their 2-2 draw with South Korea last week.
The 18-year-old is currently returning from the Far East, and while he is expected to be at the Academy of Light for training tomorrow, he is likely to play a peripheral role at best on Saturday as Sunderland return to Championship action with a home game against Preston.
“We’re still waiting on Jewison,” said Mowbray. “The communication lines aren’t great – he’s been in South Korea and, as I sit here right now, I don’t think he’s going to be in and training today (Thursday). He should definitely be available and training tomorrow though.
“He should come back in good spirits, having scored two in the first game against South Korea on the back of his goal at Watford. Hopefully, we get him back confident and ready to go.”
Bennette joined Sunderland for around £1m in the final week of the summer transfer window, and has already established himself as something of a fans’ favourite amongst the Black Cats support.
His athletic, free-running style has captured the imagination, but Mowbray remains determined not to pile too much pressure on his shoulders given his lack of senior experience and current inability to speak English.
“He’s very fast and direct, and is one of those electric players that gets people out of their seats,” said the Sunderland boss. “If he skips past that first challenge, he’s off and you’re not catching him.
“He’s exciting. But putting it into context, the communication with him is difficult. We’ve upped the language courses, and he’ll maybe be doing four hours a week now. The quicker he becomes acclimatised and is joining in the banter with the lads around the building, the better it is.
“But that said, it was great for him to score the goal at Watford and it’s going to have done him no harm to have scored two for his country away in South Korea. Let’s hope he comes back and is acclimatising. His spirits will be high.
“He’s exciting, but I don’t want to build him up too much because he’s a young boy. He’s a young boy who doesn’t speak the language yet and is five foot six. He’s a young kid, and we shouldn’t be building him up into something at this moment in time.”