Sunderland boss Chris Coleman needs youngsters to take responsibility

Sunderland's starting XI against Preston North End featured two teenagers and two 20-year-olds.
Joel Asoro in action in Saturday's defeat to Preston.Joel Asoro in action in Saturday's defeat to Preston.
Joel Asoro in action in Saturday's defeat to Preston.

There was also George Honeyman, an established first-team regular but still only in his first season as a senior footballer.

Ethan Robson, too, is very much in contention for first-team action and while Tyias Browning is out for the season, he has played more minutes than established defenders Billy Jones, Lamine Kone and Marc Wilson.

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Chris Coleman has been dependent on his young prospects, overly so, through a combination of injuries and budgetary restrictions.

With eight games to go, he will continue to put his trust in them but as he picked through the bones of the 2-0 defeat to Preston North End, he admitted that he need them to take responsibility as much as his senior professionals.

“We’ve got a lot of young boys and that’s where we concede the first goal from really,” he said.

“They’re young but they don’t mind knocking on the door if they’re not playing and asking why. So when they’re on the pitch the responsibility is there, everyone is happy to knock on your door and ask why they’re not playing so you give them their chance and say what are you going to come up with.

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“There’s a responsibility with and without the ball. They are young, and the problem is that we haven’t got time. Where we are, we need to produce.”

Sunderland were undone at a set-piece yet again against Alex Neil’s side, with Sean Maguire heading home at the back post.

He and a number of the Preston side were unmarked and Coleman admitted that his side showed no sign of getting back into the game after that.

“We’ve lost again in a poor manner,” he said.

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“It’s mindset, simple as that, mindset. It’s what you do all week. We’ve got to start looking at different preparation, turning on its head completely.”

Coleman has vowed to mix things up in the international break and there seems set to be a change of both personnel and formation.

Whatever changes he makes, youth will be key.

He said: “There’s no one else to go to really. The players we’ve got are the players we’ve got. Those are the ones we need to get us over the line.

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“The more you win, the more things go for you. We’re on the other side of that where people get nervous, they make mistakes, there’s a lack of confidence, and it’s a vicious circle.

“We have to get this circle turning in the other direction.

“This is the biggest challenge we can have, now, because we have been written-off.

“It will say a lot about us as men, how we deal with this next challenge.”