KEITH Bertschin believes Ryan Noble is beginning to appreciate the ugly side of the game after helping Sunderland’s reserves finish their league campaign on a high.
Noble has been hampered by a groin strain since making his Premier League debut for his home-town club at Everton in February.
But the 19-year-old returned for the second string in last night’s 2-0 Premier Reserve League victory over Manchester City – scoring Sunderland’s second after reserve team joint top scorer Craig Lynch had broken the deadlock.
A host of scouts were at Eppleton CW to watch a workmanlike display from Noble and Bertschin is confident there will be approaches from the Football League next season for the teenage striker.
Reserve team coach Bertschin said: “Ryan is getting to understand that you really have to put shifts in up front for your team-mates and then you’ll get rewarded.
“He’s got a couple of his goals in his last couple of games while he’s still finding his fitness.
“Since coming back from his long-term back injury, he’s had a couple of niggles which have held him back of late.
“But he’s come back a little bit of a new boy.
“He’s got a bit more of a understanding of putting a shift in and he’s up there working tirelessly.
“It would have been impossible for scouts not to notice him.
“He loves scoring goals, but he’s grown up a little bit and realises he has to do a job for a team too.”
Bertschin was particularly impressed by Sunderland’s defensive display last night, with City failing to create a clear-cut opportunity.
“Sometimes seasons can die out and you can be disappointed,” he said.
“But our back half of the season has been a credit to the lads.
“We know one or two have been let go, which is a difficult situation, and there’s an awful lot of young players coming through from the youth team who have stepped up and done themselves a lot of credit.
“It was a particularly physical and difficult match last night, but they acquitted themselves fantastically.
“The back five I thought were terrific, particularly the two centre-halves.”