Callum Styles may be uncertain of his long-term future at Sunderland with the midfielder yet to hold talks with the club about making his loan move to Wearside a permanent one. Not aided by his bout of appendicitis in January, it's taken the 24-year-old a number of weeks to get up to full speed.

Impressive at left-wing back at Elland Road against Leeds United and steady away in Sunderland's recent 1-0 defeat to Millwall, the Black Cats loanee spoke about wanting an opportunity to showcase his ability in the heart of midfield given Dan Neil's absence.

Having started to show glimpses of what he's capable of, rolling in from the left-hand side of the pitch into central areas, it seems a reasonable request to hand Styles his opportunity to fill the number six void that the Black Cats have craved all season.

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We Are Sunderland spoke with Laszlo Borsos of the Hungarian media outlet Nemzeti Sport, to see how Hungary's plans for Euro 2024 involve Styles and whether the Black Cats can learn anything from Marco Rossi's tactical approach.

"He's third choice for coach Marco Rossi because there are two key players Andras Schafer who plays in the Bundesliga with Union Berlin and there's another, Adam Nagy who pays in the Serie B with Spezia - he's much more experienced," Borsos said.

"The first time Callum played for Hungary he was also a left-wing back and he started against Serbia. He wasn't that good but not that bad. After that Marco Rossi put him in the middle of midfield and his performance was much better.

"In the previous half of the year, since the Euro qualification process began, he wasn't that consistent in central midfield. He missed one game against Lithuania away. He didn't play the first-half and the difference was huge, when he was in there in the middle of midfield, with Callum it was much better.

"He [Rossi] took him back to central midfield and had a good performance there but to be honest he got the chance because Schafer was injured for a year. He had an opportunity. In the Euros I don't think he'll start, I think he'll sit on the bench and be a substitute to come off the bench because his left foot is quite good. He's good at crossing although he's not a fast player. I think he has to develop in defensive duels but he's good when he's on the ball.

"He has long range shots which bring a different quality as Adam Nagy and Andras Schafer don't really shoot from outside of the box, but he does which is a positive. When we lose possession I think he has to be a bit more efficient when he tries to recover the ball and tackle."

We Are Sunderland: Callum Styles in action for Sunderland against Millwall.Callum Styles in action for Sunderland against Millwall. (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Sunderland supporters were left somewhat bemused when Mike Dodds admitted that he didn't know Styles' best position, having since utilised him on the left-hand side of defence during his interim stint in charge. However, the loanee has repeatedly stated his preferred position is in midfield, doubling down on that after the defeat to Millwall.

"I’m obviously a midfielder but I’ve played a lot at left wing-back as well so I think managers seem to know I can play in a lot of positions," Styles said post-match. "It can be a hindrance, but it can be a positive.

“I’m more of an advanced player so when I get more freedom to go forward and I have that licence to roll in I think that’s more my natural position. In recent results and performances you’ve seen I’ve enjoyed it more and played better.

"[With Hungary] We play two sixes and I play one of those. It's a different philosophy with a different manager but I play in that position. If I play international in that position, I can ,for sure, play at club level. I'm more than comfortable I just need the opportunity in games."

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There's a consensus back in Hungary that Styles would be better off playing in the number six role with Sunderland, as he does with Rossi's side.

"For the Hungarian National Team it would be much better if he plays in the middle of midfield with Sunderland," Borsos said. "It's difficult, how can you expect a good performance from him in the middle if he's always playing as a left-back? I think his best position is in central midfield. During his career, he's mainly played as a midfielder, the left-back position is a secondary position for him and you can feel it in in his style of play, that he's not a real defender. It looks like he's still learning that position."

While Styles admits it's a topic of conversation he's had with his national team coach, it's not something he believes is a hinderance.

"Today and previous games, I've been able to roll inside, so there's times where I do find myself in central positions," Styles said after the defeat to Millwall. "When you change in game, I can adapt quicky so it's not like I completely forget the role.

“I think I can deal with it very well, I’ve done it quite a few times in my career. Obviously different players can deal with different things and I can deal with that and I can deal with all the tactical stuff so I don’t mind it."

While Styles' future is yet to be decided, it's clear Rossi holds the versatile Black Cat in high regard, with the level he's playing at not hindering his chances of playing for Hungary.

"Marco Rossi was happy that Callum transferred a league higher, but when he used to play in League One, he was also called up and played," Barsos added. "It's interesting because now he picks a 19-year-old guy from the Belgian second division. I think for Marco, it doesn't matter which level the player plays.

"He always says it's very important that he only calls up players who deserve it. When you see how he acts, you can see if you put in a good performance it's enough for him. I think he trusts Callum. He always turns in a solid average. I think he'll come off the bench in the Euros after an hour."

So what can Sunderland learn from his international displays? Styles has 20 international appearances so far, with the majority of those in midfield, operating as one of two number sixes in Hungary's 3-4-3 formation under Rossi. His display against Lithuania back in October, a notable impressive cameo.

He came off the bench to help Hungary come from behind in a major step towards Euro 2024 qualification, earning an important point on the road. He starts the move that wins his side a penalty, playing through the lines as Rossi's side pressed for a way back into the game.

If Sunderland are to persist with a 3-4-3 of their own, they need more willingness to play forward instead of conservatively playing out wide. You can see Styles' involvement, pressing much higher up the pitch and forcing dangerous turnovers in the highlights below.

However, it hasn't always been plain sailing. If you glance back to the Nations League fixtures in 2022, Styles featured in the heart of midfield in Hungary's 4-0 win over England at Wembley. An impressive result on paper and a day to forget for the Three Lions, with the visitors dismantling a strong starting XI.

He came up against a midfield trio of Connor Gallagher, Kalvin Phillips and Jude Bellingham, but was actually statistically one of the worst performers on the pitch for Hungary that day - replaced after 56 minutes.

Styles had just 55 per cent successful actions at Wembley Stadium, winning just four of nine duels, but completed 80 per cent of his passes - eight out of ten. He also lost the ball twice in his own half. Since then the aforementioned Schafer and Nagy have established themselves as Hungary's main men operating behind their two number 10's.

A foot injury kept  Schafer out of the beginning of the current campaign, handing Styles an opportunity that he hasn't let slip through his grasp. However, it's fair to say he's come a long way since then.

We Are Sunderland: How Callum Styles compares to the rest of the Championship midfielders.How Callum Styles compares to the rest of the Championship midfielders. (Image: StatsBomb)If we use the midfield radar above, we see Styles fairs better than the Championship average for turnovers, fouls won and PAdj tackles and interceptions - the number of tackles and interceptions adjusted proportionally to the possession volume of a team - tackled and dribbled past percentage (Percentage of time a player makes a tackle when going into a duel vs getting dribbled past) and possession adjusted pressures.

It's interesting that Styles' statistics are above average compared to midfielders, given he's played just a handful of minutes there for the Black Cats since his January move. However, there's a clear need for improvement with the defensive side of his game and the need to improve On Ball Value which may be why he's yet to start in central midfield. You can view an explainer for OBV in the video below.

The statistics may not point to an efficient defensive midfielder yet - but he's clearly got the attributes to play that role having helped Hungary qualify for the European Championship's in Germany this summer.

If you compare players which have similar metrics to Styles, they're all holding midfield players, or players who play in a double pivot, bar young Archie Gray at Leeds United.

We Are Sunderland: How Callum Styles compares to similar players using StatsBomb's midfield radar.How Callum Styles compares to similar players using StatsBomb's midfield radar. (Image: StatsBomb)

We saw Dodds tinker with Sunderland's set-up against Millwall dropping Jobe into a deeper role, with Bradley Dack up front, Styles starting out on the left before moving infield. In truth, they huffed and puffed but struggled to have impetus in the final third. 

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Styles had a 90 per cent pass completion rate against the Lions, behind only Jobe  who had a 91 per cent succession rate. He also led the way when it comes to counter-pressures and recoveries for Sunderland in the recent defeat.

It's still too early for Corry Evans to start for the Black Cats after over a year out injured, while Dack offered little up front to suggest he should start there ahead of Jobe. It was an understandable roll of the dice from Dodds, but one that didn't pay off.

Still short of options in midfield, it's time we saw for ourselves if he's able to play that number six role they've lacked all season. It would be a wasted opportunity if he was to head back to Barnsley this summer without rolling the dice.