FLEETWOOD TOWN have offered Jack Diamond the opportunity to play League One football this season, with Sunderland having rejected loan offers from Harrogate Town because they want the youngster to play at as high a level as possible.

Black Cats boss Alex Neil is ready to sanction Diamond’s departure on a season-long loan basis, with Ellis Simms’ arrival from Everton having bolstered his side’s attacking ranks.

Diamond spent the majority of last season on loan at Harrogate, scoring 13 goals and weighing in with six assists for his temporary League Two employers.

The 22-year-old returned to Sunderland’s first-team fold at the start of the summer, and was pressed into action on a number of occasions during pre-season, often appearing as a makeshift centre-forward because of a lack of alternative options within Neil’s senior squad.

The signing of Simms has improved the situation, and with Neil confident of making at least one more attacking acquisition before the transfer window closes at the end of the month, the Sunderland boss is ready to allow Diamond to leave on loan.

The Gateshead-born youngster, who is contracted to the Stadium of Light until 2024, was not included in the matchday squad for either of Sunderland’s opening two Championship matches against Coventry City and Bristol City.

Harrogate would love to re-sign Diamond, with their manager, Simon Weaver, having repeatedly expressed his admiration for last season’s loanee, but Sunderland’s management team are reluctant to see their player spend another season in the fourth tier.

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Ideally, they would like to secure him a place at a League One side, with Fleetwood currently at the front of the queue.

Fleetwood boss Scott Brown is keen to increase his attacking-midfield options, and has been given the green light to pursue a loan move for Diamond.

The Sunderland hierarchy are understood to be willing to allow Diamond to move to Highbury Stadium, and the ball is now in the player’s court as he weighs up his options.

Other League One clubs have been linked with Diamond this summer, but as things stand, Fleetwood are the only third-tier club to have made a formal loan offer.

Sunderland have made six senior additions so far this summer, one of which saw them sign defender Aji Alese on a permanent deal from West Ham.

The 21-year-old, who was a late substitute in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Bristol City, is set to make his first senior start for the Black Cats in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup first-round game with Sheffield Wednesday, with Hammers boss David Moyes having revealed that Sunderland beat off strong competition to land the centre-half.

“We felt it was right (to sell Alese), he wanted to go,” said Moyes. “It was a good move. A couple of teams came in for him.

“It was good for the boy. He has been a really good boy, he has worked well, and we like him a lot. We thought to give him an opportunity was the best thing as we didn’t see a chance for him to heavily feature in the first team.”

Neil is expected to make a number of changes for Wednesday’s game at Hillsborough, although he insists it is a case of him giving much-needed game time to members of his squad rather than downplaying the importance of the Carabao Cup.

“It’s not that it’s not a priority – that’s certainly not the way I’m looking at it,” said Neil. “It’s another important game for us, but equally, we’ve got a squad that we will utilise and I need to give some of the other lads a chance to stake a claim to get themselves into the team."