KEITH Bertschin has challenged Sunderland’s young guns to grasp the chance to impress in the absence of more established reserve team figures, writes CHRIS YOUNG.
A rookie Sunderland side romped to a 6-0 win in a friendly at Bishop Auckland’s smart new Heritage Park facility last night to make light of their depleted options.
Eight of the club’s young professionals have been sent out on loan in the last fortnight, with Ryan Noble the latest to complete a move away after agreeing a one-month deal with Derby County yesterday.
Reserve team coach Bertschin has been left with a blend of youth-teamers and first-year professionals, with Craig Lynch, Roarie Deacon and Michael Liddle the most senior figures on show for Sunderland last night.
But, with professional contracts up for grabs at the end of the season, Bertschin believes the next month offers the club’s latest crop of youngsters a window of opportunity.
Berschin said: “It was a good exercise for the boys who haven’t perhaps played as much as they’d have wanted to.
“Obviously with the boys going on loan, it has given the opportunity to these guys.
“They’ve got to take this opportunity over the next four or five weeks to make a case for themselves in regards to next season.”
Second year scholar Adam Mitchell helped himself to a hat-trick as Sunderland ran away with the game in the second half – Lynch, Deacon and trialist Jaden Hall also getting on the scoresheet.
Bertschin added: “Adam Mitchell took his goals very well, especially the second one which made it 2-0 and settled the game.
“Everyone then gets an extra chance to breathe and get a bit more confident. The passes come and then so do the goals. It was a good performance in the end.
“They all showed good attitude and because they made a few crisp passes early in the second half and scored a few goals. It killed the game off which is what we hoped they’d do.
“They kept going and Stephen (Clemence, assistant coach) gave one or two of the young ones a chance to blood them.
“It proved a good exercise in more ways than one.”
Meanwhile, Noble trained with Derby yesterday in his second loan spell with the Rams after his previous stint at the start of last season was marred by injury.
Derby boss Nigel Clough said: “When Ryan arrived last season we labelled him as a striker with a good reputation for scoring goals and his form in recent months for Sunderland’s reserves suggests he hasn’t lost his touch.”