While Sunderland don't yet know what division they'll be playing in next season, with January out of the way the scouting team will be working hard to identify potential summer signings.

And while the Black Cats' uncertainty over whether they'll be promoted or not doesn't make that an easy task, there is one transfer policy the club hope to follow which they can plan for whether they're in League One or the Championship.

That policy is trying to sign bright, hungry, young players with some experience of playing in the EFL already. It's a model that Stewart Donald has been trying to influence on the side since arriving, with Luke O'Nien, George Dobson and Jordan Willis the shining examples of when that works well. All three have been regulars this season and are at good ages where they can still potentially improve and move up the leagues with Sunderland.

With that in mind, we've identified ten of the brightest young talents in the EFL who Sunderland could realistically target this summer.

Charlie Kelman

Charlie Kelman of Southend United
Charlie Kelman of Southend United

Sunderland reportedly made a move for the 18-year-old Southend striker in January, as did Tottenham.

And while the Premier League giants might be a more flattering destination, it's fair to say that no matter the league, his chances of playing football will be higher at the Stadium of Light.

Kelman is an extremely bright prospect, and has four goals in 14 appearances for Sol Campbell's side.

With plenty of work-rate, fight and determination, he has a style that would be very well suited to both Sunderland and manager Phil Parkinson.

Antoine Semenyo

Antoine Semenyo
Antoine Semenyo

The young Bristol City forward is spending the rest of the season on loan at Sunderland from Bristol City.

He's so far been restricted to just a couple of sub appearances, but is without doubt an exciting prospect.

The Robins rate him highly, but if Semenyo can get a good run in the Black Cats side between now and the end of the season, they might see value in him spending all of next term here.

A permanent deal is unlikely, but already familiar with the club and the style of the manager, a full season on Wearside could see Semenyo really thrive and be a big asset to Sunderland.

Nathan Holland

Oxford United's Nathan Holland celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the FA Cup fourth round replay match at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford
Oxford United's Nathan Holland celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the FA Cup fourth round replay match at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford

The 21-year-old is spending the rest of the season on loan at Oxford, but is rated very highly by parent club West Ham.

Like Semenyo, this one is unlikely to be a deal that could be done permanently, but Holland is an exciting, speedy winger who has a bit of something special about him.

He proved that with his late equaliser against Newcastle United in the FA Cup. He certainly has an eye for goal, with that incredible strike accompanying the 12 goals he scored for West Ham's U23s before January.

Harry Brockbank

Bolton Wanderers' Harry Brockbank
Bolton Wanderers' Harry Brockbank

A player previously linked to Sunderland, Brockbank turned down offers last summer when out of contract at crisis club Bolton. It's not known if Sunderland were one of the sides he turned down, but once Bolton's future was resolved he signed a two-year deal at the club, saying they were the only side he wants to play for.

But if Bolton are relegated, as looks almost certain, you have to feel they might look to cash in on a player that has also courted interest in Premier League clubs.

The 21-year-old right-back has struggled with injuries this season, managing just eight appearances to date.

But Sunderland could hold the ace card in Phil Parkinson. The Sunderland boss gave him his Bolton debut when at the club, and also gave him club captaincy - a clear indication of how much he rates him.

Tom Bayliss

Coventry midfielder Tom Bayliss scores against Burton Albion
Coventry midfielder Tom Bayliss scores against Burton Albion

Also previously linked to Sunderland, Bayliss left Coventry City for Preston last summer - but only after shutting down rumours of a move to Sunderland by responding to a supporter on Twitter claiming he was heading to the north east, saying: "Couldn’t be further from the truth, currently attempting to cook my dinner without setting my house on fire.”

The 20-year-old midfielder has not had quite the desired impact at Preston, however. After a move believed to be just shy of £2m, he's made just four appearances, all coming in cup competitions. He's not even made the bench at Deepdale since December 29.

A sublimely talented player, could Sunderland rescue him from the Lancashire side and reignite his career by getting him back to the midfielder that was so good for Coventry last term?

Reece Hutchinson

Luton Town's Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu is tackled by Burton Albion's Reece Hutchinson
Luton Town's Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu is tackled by Burton Albion's Reece Hutchinson

Left-back has proven a problem position for Sunderland this season so far as cover is concerned.

Denver Hume has made the wing-back position his own on that left-wing, but Laurens De Bock failed to provide adequate cover and was allowed to leave early in January, prompting the arrival of Declan John on loan from Swansea. He is yet to make a matchday squad.

And while John could still yet play some part in Sunderland's promotion chase, perhaps the long-term solution, which also doesn't stifle Hume's continued development, is signing a young prospect to play back-up to Hume.

With that in mind, Burton 19-year-old Reece Hutchinson could be perfect. He looks an extremely bright prospect, with Nigel Clough waxing lyrically about his potential recently.

With just 12 months left on his deal at the end of the season, Burton could be willing to negotiate a deal at a reasonable price.

Luke Thomas

Luke Thomas of Barnsley celebrates after scoring
Luke Thomas of Barnsley celebrates after scoring

On loan at Coventry from Derby last term, Luke Thomas impressed with his expressive and dynamic wing play.

With four goals and five assists the pacey attacker earned a permanent summer transfer to newly promoted Barnsley where he has shown flashes of his potential with one goal and four assists in the second tier.

But if Barnsley were to be relegated, and Sunderland promoted, there's a chance the forward might become available. With Semenyo's loan deal expiring and Duncan Watmore out of contract and potentially leaving, Parkinson will have to bolster his forward options in the summer.

Ro-Shaun Williams

Aiden McGeady of Sunderland (L) takes on Ro-Shaun Williams
Aiden McGeady of Sunderland (L) takes on Ro-Shaun Williams

A former Manchester United academy centre-back, Williams made the respectable decision to join Shrewsbury last January to play first team football. He was a player a lot of Manchester United fans were excited about.

The 21-year-old is big, strong, athletic and very pacey. At 15 he beat Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell's 25-year 100 metre school's record, clocking in at 10.99 seconds.

He still has some developing to do, but 18 months of playing regular first team football at Shrewsbury will have helped that, and his attributes would make him an ideal signing to provide competition for one of the two wider centre-back roles where there's freedom to get forward. With Bailey Wright's loan up and Tom Flanagan and Alim Ozturk out of contract, it's an area Sunderland could look to strengthen.

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Beryly Lubala

Beryly Lubala
Beryly Lubala

One of the brightest young talents in League Two, the Crawley forward has 11 goals and two assists from the left wing this term.

He joined them last summer on a free from Birmingham and at 22 is looking an exciting prospect to say the least.

With strength, pace and an eye for goal, he looks tailor-made for one of the two roles behind the main striker in Parkinson's Sunderland set-up.

Scott Fraser

Scott Fraser of Burton Albion
Scott Fraser of Burton Albion

Sorry Burton fans! Having already suggested poaching left-back Hutchinson, it's hard to also ignore Scottish midfielder Scott Fraser.

Oldest on this list at 24, Fraser has had an incredible two seasons in League One with Clough's side.

Since the start of last season he has netted 16 goals and registered 19 assists.

Although normally a central midfielder for Burton, he can operate as a number ten and based on the way Sunderland play and his own lack of defensive responsibility, one of the two forward roles would be best suited for Fraser. Good on the ball when running at defenders, he can also play a killer pass in the final third, which is evidenced by his incredible number of assists.

This one definitely makes sense too, particularly if Sunderland are promoted, with his contract at Burton up in the summer.