Agnew urged to claim Sunderland first team place

Liam Agnew in action for sunderland Under21 against Villarreal Under21. Picture by FRANK REID
Liam Agnew in action for sunderland Under21 against Villarreal Under21. Picture by FRANK REID

LIAM AGNEW has been challenged to make the next step after becoming the latest academy product to make his first-team debut for Sunderland.

Midfielder Agnew was handed his Sunderland bow as a late substitute in Tuesday night’s FA Cup replay win at Fulham and is expected to be on the bench again for today’s trip to Swansea.

The 19-year-old was first included in the matchday squad for last season’s 2-2 draw at Manchester City and has regularly travelled with Gus Poyet’s men since then, or been among the substitutes when Sunderland have been short on numbers.

Poyet was glad to finally hand Agnew his opportunity against Fulham, but is now looking for the Under-21s’ captain to continue his development.

“Liam won’t let you down,” Poyet said.

“He will do things in a certain manner consistently all the time.

“What I would like him to do now is define himself as a player who can do things spectacular, offensive or defensive.

“That’s up to me too, when he trains with me.

“But it’s all about timing.”

Poyet says he was always planning to introduce Agnew into the fray at Craven Cottage after Connor Wickham’s withdrawal in the warm-up, and the loss of Jack Rodwell on the morning of the game, had left Sunderland with just five substitutes.

“I told him before the game – as soon as Connor Wickham got injured – that he was going to play,” added Poyet.

“It would have had to be a complete nightmare of a game for him not to play.

“The game itself didn’t give him the chance to play earlier.

“But Giaccy and Ricky weren’t strong enough to last 90 minutes, so he had to come on.

“It was nice to see him – playing and celebrating in front of 4,000 fans, who were spectacular by the way.

“That will make him feel part of it.

“He’s travelled and who knows what will happen today?”

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