Sunderland manager Gus Poyet recently said that he would not be giving young players a chance in the first-team until his senior stars were performing better.
It made sense given the need for Sunderland to get points on the board and build momentum; after all, blooding youngsters makes far more sense when the players around them are not scrambling for form and fighting for their own places in the team.
But there will come a time when Poyet looks to give his younger charges opportunities, and with 2015 fast approaching, we take a look at three young Sunderland players who should be given a chance either in the second half of this season or at the beginning of the following campaign.
Mikael Mandron is a 20-year-old French striker who has already tasted first-team action with Sunderland. Having made his senior debut as an 85th-minute substitute against Aston Villa in 2013 he would also play 16 minutes against Tottenham in the last game of that campaign.
But having overcome an injury setback, the player could force his way into Poyet’s first-team plans on a more consistent basis in the near future.
Last season Mandron scored 11 goals in 10 under-21 matches and his eye for goal is undeniable.
Lynden Gooch is an attacking midfielder who can also operate as a striker and he recently penned a new deal that will keep him at the club until 2017.
The 18-year-old American has appeared 12 times for Sunderland’s under-21s and his versatility is such that he could be used effectively by Poyet, most likely in cup games next season if his manager decides to take a chance.
Duncan Watmore is predominantly a right-winger who can also operate on the opposite flank or up front if required. He has been singled-out by Poyet for praise and his manager has ruled out the possibility of the 20-year-old leaving the club any time soon.
Watmore made his one and only appearance for Sunderland’s first-team in the FA Cup against Altrincham but it seems more could follow sooner rather than later.