David Moyes has so far shown he is willing to give youth a chance at Sunderland.
Lynden Gooch has made great strides this season under Moyes, who has a history at his former clubs – particularly Everton, where he handed a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney his debut – of blooding the kids.
So ahead of Sunderland U23s’ Checkatrade clash with neighbours Hartlepool United tonight, we look at three Black Cats youngsters to look out for at Victoria Park.
The striker gained admirers – at both Sunderland and beyond – in pre-season, and aged just 17 the Swede became Sunderland’s youngest-ever Premier League player when he appeared against Middlesbrough earlier this season.
The teen sensation is on the radar of the likes of Bayern Munich, AC Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain, so his pace and power should light up the ‘Vic.
A regular in Sunderland’s Under-18s last year who also broke into the former U21 set-up amid seemingly fast-track progress to the first team, Robson’s old school, no-nonsense approach to defending has impressed successive Sunderland managers.
Still just 18, and versatile – he is comfortable at centre-half as well as right-back – his potential was underlined when he was among Sunderland’s substitutes in the Capital One Cup last year against Exeter City.
Another player who has quickly graduated from Under-18 to Under-21 football and the fringe of senior action, the England U20 international can terrorise defences with his sparkling wing play and direct running.
Although from black and white country in Winlaton, the 19-year- old has been at the Academy of Light since the age of eight, and landed both a two-year senior contract and a first-team debut at Watford on the final day of last season under Sam Allardyce.