TONY MOWBRAY is delighted that Joe Gelhardt chose to put footballing considerations ahead of financial ones when he opted to join Sunderland last week.

Gelhardt had a number of different options after Leeds boss Jesse Marsch decided to send him out on loan, with a host of Championship sides making inquiries about his availability.

Mowbray freely admits that the 20-year-old was presented with more financially attractive offers than the one he received from Sunderland, but he opted to move to the Stadium of Light as he felt it would be the best thing for furthering his career.

From a Sunderland perspective, it is just as well he signed on the dotted line, as he is set to be a pivotal player in the remainder of the season with Ross Stewart expected to be sidelined for a lengthy spell after picking up a suspected Achilles injury at Fulham at the weekend.

“We’re delighted to have got him,” said Mowbray. “We’re fully aware of the financially better off football clubs that wanted to take Joe Gelhardt and yet I hope he wanted to do the football project, he could see the talent at the front end of the field who can get the ball to him and that he feels he can come and help us score goals.

“It’s a young team, it’s not as though there’s a load of old guys around him telling him what to do. He’s going to come and express his talent and hopefully score goals and help this team moving forward.”

As well as Gelhardt expressing a desire to join Sunderland, Leeds’ senior coaching staff were also strong supporters of a move to the Stadium of Light.

Mowbray developed a reputation for being an astute developer of young players during his time at Blackburn Rovers, and has furnished it further in the last few months as he nurtured the likes of Amad Diallo, Abdoullah Ba, Edouard Michut, Dan Neil, Aji Alese and Trai Hume within Sunderland’s first-team squad.

“I think he looked at the football project rather than a team that could play Leeds lots of money,” said the Black Cats boss. “I think Leeds looked at the football project as well, and they think putting him in with the other young players at Sunderland (is a good idea) and let him go.

“It’s a Premier League feel when you play at the Stadium of Light in front of 40,000 fans. They expect, and even though it’s a very young team who finished fifth in League One last year, they are all playing with a brave style and enjoying their football.”

Gelhardt has already played for Leeds in this season’s FA Cup, and was therefore ineligible for Saturday’s fourth-round draw at Fulham.

With Stewart set to be sidelined, he will almost certainly make his Sunderland debut at Millwall at the weekend though, with Mowbray more than ready to throw him into the fray.

“With the injury to Ross, it looks to me like we have Millwall away next week, get yourself there and we will unleash him on the league and see how he gets on,” he said.