PHIL PARKINSON has challenged Benji Kimpioka to “let his football do the talking” after the 20-year-old finally signed a new contract with Sunderland.

Kimpioka has signed a one-year deal at the Stadium of Light, with an option for a further year if all goes well, after a long-running saga that saw him initially leave Wearside after his previous contract expired in the summer.

The striker returned to his native Sweden while his agent negotiated with a number of different clubs, but a succession of proposed moves failed to come to fruition and Sunderland officials agreed to keep their initial offer on the table.

Kimpioka has subsequently agreed to re-join the Black Cats, and having been frustrated by the length of time it took the youngster to make a decision on his future, Parkinson is urging him to focus his undivided attention on his football for the next 12 months.

“He’s got to start showing that he can be a player,” said the Sunderland boss. “Maybe the people advising him haven’t quite been giving him the right advice, but he’s a decent lad so let’s see if he can start running about and putting the ball in the back of the net.

“I said to him yesterday, there’s been a lot of talk about him – too much, in my view. I want Benji to let his football do the talking now. If he can push his way into the first -team picture, then great. If not, we’ll look to loan him out and do what we did with Jack Diamond last year, where he got that first-team exposure elsewhere.

“Benji has now got to get his head down and concentrate on being the best he possibly can be in training each day. He needs to try to make us think that we have to include him.”

Kimpioka made his senior debut in an EFL Trophy game against Stoke City Under-21s in September 2018, and made his first league appearance the following month against Peterborough.

He has made 14 senior appearances in total, scoring two goals, but neither Jack Ross nor Parkinson appeared to trust him sufficiently to grant him an extended run in the first team.

It remains to be seen whether that changes this season, and while he has effectively been without a club for the last six months, he has at least been working diligently to ensure he has remained fit.

“The bonus for us is that he has been training over in Sweden,” said Parkinson. “He’s come back and had a physical assessment with our sports scientist and done really well.

“He’s not as far off as we feared he might be, but he’s now got to do some work with the Under-23s and get a couple of games under his belt, and start pushing himself towards first-team inclusion.”

Given that he does not turn 21 until February, Kimpioka’s wages do not count towards Sunderland’s salary-cap limit, and if Parkinson is to add anyone else to his squad before the EFL transfer window closes on October 16, they are also likely to be aged 21 or under.

The Black Cats boss has missed out on Mateo Bajamich, with the Argentinian forward having agreed to join MLS side Houston Dynamo, but remains in discussions over a couple of potential options.

“There won’t be any movement out, I don’t think, but in terms of incomings, there are situations we are monitoring,” said Parkinson. “We’ll get this weekend out of the game, and then while we’ve got the (EFL Trophy) game against Carlisle on Tuesday evening, the following weekend’s game against Blackpool has been called off because of the international games so we’ve got a bit of breathing space to look at things.

“I’d like one or two more additions. I’m pleased with what we’ve got in place, but you always want more and if the right players become available, then we’ll try to get them.

“Ideally, a bit more pace would be nice. But we’ve got Jack Diamond, and Benji has just re-signed, so if we’re going to bring young players in on loan, then they’ve got to be better than our own young players. I don’t want to bring a young loan player if they’re not a significant improvement on what we’ve got because we’ve got our own players who want an opportunity as well.”

Dan Neil is another youngster pushing for more regular involvement after signing a three-year deal with Sunderland earlier this week.

The 18-year-old was linked with a number of Premier League clubs including Newcastle and Leeds before putting pen to paper at the Stadium of Light, and Parkinson is hoping his development will continue in the next few months.

“Dan has come back and done well in pre-season, and he’s a player we wanted to tie up to a longer contract,” said the Black Cats boss.

“He’s been no fuss in terms of that – him and his agent have been very sensible right the way through – and I’ve also told Dan I want him to focus on his football now.”