Simon Grayson has again praised promising striker Josh Maja after his two goals sealed victory at Bury.
Sunderland kicked off their pre-season with a 3-2 win over League One Bury last night, with second-half sub Maja scoring twice as the Black Cats came from 2-0 behind.
The 18-year-old caught the eye of Grayson during this week’s training camp in Austria and he has further boosted his hopes of more first-team chances this season.
Maja’s first goal was a cool finish from six yards before the striker volleyed home from close range late on to seal victory.
Grayson said: “He is a willing kid and his two goals were very good.
“They all have an opportunity, the younger players. There will be strikers coming in, but he has done well, he has to keep working and improving.”
The former Preston boss was pleased to get the first game out of the way ahead of a trio of matches in Scotland, starting with Hibernian tomorrow (2pm).
Grayson said: “It is good to see what the players can bring to the table. Second half, the younger players performed very well.
“Josh took his goals very well, but there were some encouraging performances elsewhere too.
“This is only the first game of pre-season and it is out of the way now and we know there is a lot of hard work to get us to where we need to get to.
“The first 10 days of pre-season is all about the fitness work and getting the work into the legs of the players.
“We have a game Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday so it is more about concentrating on the tactical stuff and how I want to play.
“You keep progressing as pre-season goes on.”
John O’Shea, new signing Brendan Galloway, Jeremain Lens, Didier Ndong and Elliot Embleton did not feature at Gigg Lane as they only returned to training on Wednesday after being given an extended break due to international commitments.
They will all travel to Scotland with the rest of the Sunderland squad.
Grayson added: “We will have a stronger party up there for the three games.”
After Hibs, Sunderland visit Livingston on Wednesday and St Johnstone next Saturday.