TONY MOWBRAY will recall Jack Diamond from his loan spell at Lincoln City in January – if the Sunderland forward continues to hit the heights in League One.

Diamond joined Lincoln on a season-long loan at the end of August, with Alex Neil having concluded that he was not ready for a regular place in Sunderland’s first-team squad, but the Black Cats have inserted a clause that enables them to recall him when the transfer window reopens at the turn of the year.

While Sunderland have been struggling without a recognised centre-forward in the last few weeks, Diamond has been in impressive form with the Imps, with his hat-trick in last month’s 6-3 win over Bristol Rovers helping earn him a nomination for the League One Player of the Month award.

He has failed to score in his last two league games, but Mowbray is monitoring his progress closely and is hoping the 22-year-old will make a compelling case for a January recall in the next couple of months.

“Every loan I’ve ever done has a recall clause, so we’ll be able to bring him back in January if we want to,” said Mowbray, who will once again be without both Ross Stewart and Ellis Simms when Sunderland host Wigan Athletic tomorrow. “We watch Jack’s clips every week. He was nominated for the Player of the Month the other month, and scored a hat-trick a couple of weeks ago.

“I actually saw him play in Sunderland’s pre-season game at Hartlepool – I was there with the Hartlepool owner and Gary Pallister, who is a good friend – and I thought Jack Diamond played well that night. He looked sharp and clever with the ball down the left-hand side, always chopping it back and putting it across the box. But then a week later he’d gone on loan.

“If he goes away and is sub all the time, not getting into a lower-league team, then he’s probably in the right place, developing and learning what it’s like to be subbed off or left out of the team. But if he bangs in 20 goals before January, this club have to sit there and think, ‘Right, hang on a minute, why have we got an asset away scoring all those goals?’”

Mowbray was not involved in the process that led to Diamond leaving for the third time as a Sunderland player, having previously had two earlier spells at Harrogate Town.

However, he understands why a player would want to leave to secure regular first-team football, even if subsequent events mean Diamond might well have found himself challenging for a starting spot in Sunderland’s attack if he had remained at the Stadium of Light.

“I’ve never spoken to the boy, but maybe he just wanted to play,” said Mowbray. “Maybe he didn’t want to be here every week, sitting on the bench, hardly playing any football. Maybe he wanted to go and play 20 or 30 games before January, some footballers are like that.

“You have to feel what’s important to them. Some just want to play football."