Manager Andy Welsh had divulged that he is very keen to build on the high success of Sunderland’s Development Team from last season.
Welsh become the under-21 manager at the start of the 2015/16 campaign after predecessor Robbie Stockdale was promoted to the role of first-team coach in Sam Allardyce’s backroom staff.
Very rich and raw talent are starting to come through the Academy of Light’s youth programme now and the young Black Cats showed their potential as they finished second in the U21 Premier League last season, just five points behind winners Manchester United.
Former academy players are now making the grade in the first team squad, particularly Duncan Watmore and Jordan Pickford, while fellow youngsters Lynden Gooch, Tommy Robson, George Honeyman and Rees Greenwood have also broke through into the first team set up.
With that in mind, Welsh has now challenged the Development Team to match last season’s fine achievements with the hopes for more young players to catch Allardyce's eye.
Commitment to the youngster
Speaking to the club's official website, Welsh admitted his ambition and desire to win as many games as possible, this season, citing it as "important" for the team in their development.
However, while the "expectations are there" to go on to win football matches and "have a good season" again, the "be all and end all" is to make sure the Academy "get players through" to the first team and give Allardyce a selection headache.
Welsh recognises that, as players make their way through the systems, "fewer get there" and that it has become "incredibly difficult" for young players to make an impact amongst the seniors.
The hope though is to "encourage" the "individual development" and the ultimate goal is to "push one or two" through into the first team, mirroring last year’s success.
“Last year we did that very well," Welsh said, adding: "We are hoping again this year to be doing the same type of thing.”