Sunderland’s fearless youngsters provide the energy, pace and workrate that David Moyes wants in his team.
Moyes produced a shock with the surprise inclusion of Lynden Gooch and Donald Love - and to a lesser extent Duncan Watmore - in his starting line-up for the narrow defeat at Manchester City.
New signing Adnan Januzaj, who only met his new teammates the day before, started on the bench alongside more the experienced duo Jeremain Lens and Wahbi Khazri, with other key midfielders out injured.
City took an early lead but Sunderland managed to keep Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva at bay until Jermain Defoe equalised midway through the second half.
By then, Belgian international Januzaj and Khazri had entered the action, with Moyes’ tactical plan of containing City before hitting them late on almost coming off, until Paddy McNair’s late own goal.
Gooch showed real signs of promise before he was subbed after 65 minutes, with the 20-year-old’s energy and pace down the left causing problems, especially during the first half.
Moyes was pleased with the impact of the forward, who signed a new three-year deal in the summer.
When asked about Gooch showing no fear to take players on, Moyes said: “Especially, I thought, in the early part of the game.
“The biggest thing was I needed people who were going to run and have energy.
“Until we improve, then we can afford people who maybe don’t run about as much, I want people who are going to work for the team and be part of the team.
“I have told them that. I thought the wee boy did a great job.”
Love, who last week signed a four-year deal after leaving Manchester United, was also thrown straight in at right-back.
The 21-year-old, who can also play in midfield, endured a nervy start but grew into the game.
Moyes was pleased with the impact of the club’s younger players.
“I take a lot from it, especially giving two young boys their debut,” added Moyes.
“I thought they both did really well and that is what you want to do, to give your young boys an opportunity when the players aren’t there because of injuries.
“I’m more disappointed for the players because they put in a great effort. You’ve got to remember that we gave two boys their debut - against Man City.
“I though Gooch did great and Donald had only met the players once. So, well done to the boys for coming in and putting in such a good performance.”