Assistant manager Eric Black admitted Sunderland could struggle to hold on to teenage striker Danny Welbeck if he continues in his rich vein of form.
Loan signing Welbeck, who will turn 20 on Friday, scored twice in Monday night's 2-2 draw with Everton, adding to his first goal for the club at Chelsea. However, the Black Cats know their hopes of signing him on a permanent basis from Manchester United could be dashed if he remains on the goal trail.
Black said: "That's the problem you have to face. If we can concentrate on the first bit and he can be exceptional for us this year and score 15 goals, we will deal with the other bit when it comes."
He added: "But first and foremost, we need to have the problem.
"He is an exceptionally good player. I see him every day in training and he has got fantastic ability.
"He has now got the confidence. Probably what has stunted his development is he has not been able to play regular football week in, week out.
"He is now getting that opportunity and he has grasped it. He has got phenomenal potential - that's probably why he is at one of the biggest clubs in the world - but hopefully he is flourishing here and hopefully we can hang on to him for as long as possible."
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