DAN Neil has been living the dream as a Sunderland player this season and manager Lee Johnson says anything is possible for the young midfielder. 

Neil wore the captain's armband on Tuesday evening's Papa Johns Trophy win against Lincoln City and put in a man of the match performance, as well as scoring a 25 yard screamer within two minutes of kick-off. 

He's made 13 appearances in total this season and netted his first senior goal int he 2-1 win over Accrington Stanley at the Stadium of Light. 

The 19-year-old has impressed fans and pundits with performances beyond his years showing great technical ability and comfort on the ball. 

While the Black Cats boss knows he has a player on his hands, he's careful about putting too much on the midfielder. With that in mind, he hasn't started in Sunderland's last two league games. 

"We've got to be sensible with Dan" said Johnson.

"Not just him, but the likes of Callum Doyle, Dennis Cirkin, Niall Huggins.

"You heard Gareth Southgate talking about this recently with Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham, protecting these young players and managing their workloads.

"It's the same with our kids who are at a similar age. You've got to get a balance.

"Dan wants to play every game and rightly so, and so it's up to me to manage it.

"I really don't think he'll be moaning about the amount of minutes he's had this season."

While Johnson will be hopeful that Neil will have a long career for his hometown club, he understands that his football career could potentially take him anywhere. 

"There's no limit for Dan in terms of his technical ability." he said.

"We've worked on his physicality and that sort of burst over the first five or six yards, and I think that's added another dimension to his game this season.

"If anyone was here tonight, and I'm sure there will have been, they will absolutely have been writing down in their notepad to keep an eye on Dan Neil.

"He's still got a lot to prove and learn, but he's on a really nice trajectory in terms of his pathway and how he's improving as a player."