Lee Cattermole says that Sunderland’s youngsters are still getting used to the way Chris Coleman wants them to play.
The Black Cats boss has brought in a three-man defence in recent games as he looks to find a formation that will move the club away from the Championship trap door.
Sunderland sit bottom of the table, but have won three times in 11 games since Coleman took charge.
Their ability to build momentum has been hit by a depleted squad, meaning Coleman has been forced to rely on a number of young players.
Cattermole, who returned from injury himself in the 4-0 defeat against Cardiff at the weekend, says the change in tactics will take a bit of time to get used to.
He said: “We’re in a very difficult situation for the whole club and it’s important that we stick together.
“I feel a little bit for the young players at the moment. We’ve got a lot of young lads coming in which is a great opportunity for them but it’s tough circumstances.
“The gaffer has got great knowledge of the game, and experience, and he’s great for the young players learning different systems.
“We change systems and have different ideas and sometimes that takes a bit of time (to get used to).
“You can see some games it works well for us but other opponents we struggle to cope with.
“It’s been a little bit difficult but obviously really positive at times.”
Cattermole also revealed he believes that a positive end of the season could see Sunderland really prosper next term under Coleman.
He added: “We had a good team meeting last week and we need to remember what he said in that meeting. He showed us a lot of positives not only from games but from training day in, day out.
“It’s a big few months now until the end of the season and if we can start building some momentum and get out of this position it can suddenly become a positive going into next year.”