Amid rumours that Sunderland striker Josh Maja is dithering on signing a new contract with the Black Cats, Middlesbrough has emerged as a shock potential destination for the 19-year-old.
Maja has been in terrific form for Sunderland this season, having already scored 11 goals for the Stadium of Light residents in only 20 games.
When asked about the future of his striker, Sunderland manager Jack Ross sounded optimistic, though he admitted that nothing could be taken for granted.
“There’s no update on Josh’s contract situation,” said Ross, when asked about Maja’s future.
“As a manager - and I think the owners know this - I am invested in progressing the club as a whole.”
“You have to think in the short-term as well, and I know that Josh will be a player with me until January as a minimum, and I would expect him to be here longer than that although we can’t say that with certainty until everything has been resolved from a contractual point of view.”
“I’ve still got every confidence that he will be here certainly for the foreseeable future.”
Despite the fact that he is only 19, Maja has been a key player for the promotion hopeful Sunderland side this season. Still, while his rise to fame has been steep, Ross is confident that the player has what it takes to handle his new-found fame.
“Sometimes you forget how young he is - some of the young lads who made their debuts against Morecambe in the week are older than Josh.”
“He’s level-headed though and he recognises that there are certain aspects of his game that he needs to get better at.”
The need for goals at Boro has become pressing of late, having only scored 3 goals in the last 4 Championship games.
And with the competition for promotion heating up – with only 7 points separating the 1st placed Norwich City from 10th placed QPR – goals will be needed if Boro are to gain promotion to the Premier League this season.