JACK DIAMOND will be given the chance to stake a claim for a place in Sunderland’s first-team squad in the wake of his National League play-off heroics with Harrogate Town.

The 20-year-old forward scored Harrogate’s third goal on Sunday as the North Yorkshire club won promotion to the Football League courtesy of a 3-1 win over Notts County at Wembley.

The second-half strike was the perfect way for Diamond to round off his loan spell at Harrogate, with the youngster having been a regular in Simon Weaver’s side.

Weaver would like to retain Gateshead-born Diamond for Harrogate’s forthcoming campaign in League Two, but Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson wants the opportunity to work with the versatile attacker at first hand before deciding on the next step in his development.

Diamond will be given a brief period off in the wake of his play-off exertions, but will join Sunderland’s first-team group in the next couple of weeks as the pre-season programme steps up a gear.

If Parkinson decides he is not ready for League One, he will almost certainly be sent on another loan deal rather than spend next season in Sunderland’s Under-23s.

However, with a packed schedule in the first half of the season set to include the League Cup and EFL Trophy as well as matches in League One, it is hoped Diamond will be able to establish himself as part of Sunderland’s senior group.

There is scope for him to replace Benji Kimpioka in the Black Cats’ first-team squad, with the Swedish youngster having so far refused to accept Sunderland’s offer of a new deal. Kimpioka returned to his homeland when his previous contract expired in June, and while the sporting director of his former club, IK Sirius, does not envisage him rejoining on a permanent basis, the prospects of the striker returning to Wearside continue to recede.

Diamond has proved he can handle himself in the National League, and while the step up to League One will be significant, Sunderland’s coaching team will be mindful of the need to starting integrating some of their academy products into the first team rather than watch them leave for next to nothing when their contracts expire.

“It feels brilliant,” said Diamond, after Harrogate’s win. “We all had a strong sense of desire to achieve this. I could feel it from the moment I arrived. It’s been a pleasure to be part of it.”