Elliott Dickman optimistic for future of Sunderland’s youngsters after first team support this season

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Elliott Dickman has been thrilled with the support he has received from Sunderland’s first-team set-up this season.

Dickman took over the Under-23 managerial berth when Andy Welsh left for Wigan earlier in the season, but has seen a number of young players he has coached make their breakthroughs during the campaign.

The U23 side are gearing up for their Premier League International Cup semi-final against Norwich next Friday, having dumped Athletic Bilbao out earlier in the year.

Dickman has reflected on season that has been tough for the first team but has seen green shoots emerge from the academy. He said: “We’ve been quite lucky our manager’s been quite proactive with the young players here,

“They’re across training quite a lot, we play games against them (the first team), some of them have made their debuts.

“The argument back could be that some of that might be a needs must, but the fact he’s got the confidence to do that can only benefit the young players.

“He’s been fantastic with me personally. It’s been great to talk football with him and have conversations about players.

“It’s a great learning tool for me as a coach and hopefully I can take that back to the players and make them better.

“There’s a great togetherness on that side with (first-team coaches) Robbie Stockdale, Paul Bracewell and the manager – they’ve all been fantastic.

“The British managers we’ve had have been very, very proactive in the academy. I’m not saying the others aren’t good managers, but they come from a different culture and different systems. Each year they have different scenarios to deal with and different pressures. It’s relentless.

“At the minute, it’s been fantastic. Who knows in the summer what the manager will decide to do from a players’ point of view, but, if there are spaces for younger players, it can only benefit the club, the players and the academy.

“The good thing is there’s a sense of being really focused on the football side and the local area, but we don’t want to sit still.

“We’re not going to be a Manchester City with what they throw at their elite development financially, so we’ve just got to make sure we give it everything we’ve got with the resources we’ve got.”