GUS POYET insists he is relishing the day when he can introduce one of Sunderland’s homegrown youngsters to the Premier League.
But, with Sunderland sinking into the bottom three, Poyet believes the Black Cats need to be on a more stable footing before they can look to promote from within.
The head coach has taken a keen interest in the academy set-up in his year at the Sunderland helm – winger Duncan Watmore handed his Black Cats debut in last season’s FA Cup third round tie against Carlisle and left-back Tom Robson travelling with the first-team squad for the recent 8-0 rout at Southampton.
Poyet (pictured) is yet to throw any of the club’s homegrown products into the cauldron of the Premier League, but the Uruguayan is conscious of the need to eventually reach that stage.
He told the Echo: “If one day – and I’m not saying it for the sake of it, I promise – if we’ve got a player who is 17,18 or 19 and he’s ready, he’ll play.
“If he can perform in the same way he does for the Under-21s, as he does for the first team, then he’ll play.
“But it depends on how you’re doing in the first-team.
“If the first team is doing OK, then you can put people in.
“But at the moment, no.
“Robbo travelled with us to Southampton – what an experience that was for him!
“It’s why the cup is perfect.
“I remember last year when I played Duncan and he was running and the people went ballistic.
“I wouldn’t be afraid of playing Robbo against certain teams either. There are things he can do, but things he needs to improve too.”
Sporting director Lee Congerton has also taken a keen interest in the youth set-up.
Last week, highly-rated centre-half Tom Beadling became the third member of the Under-21 squad to pen a new deal over the last month, following in the footsteps of Watmore and midfielder Martin Smith.
Poyet says Sunderland have needed to be pro-active over contracts after seeing academy product Jack Colback leave the club for nothing during the summer.
“You know what happened in the past,” added Poyet.
“We need to make sure we do things a little bit better and Lee Congerton and the recruitment system are trying to make things easier and not find ourselves in situations where young players can leave the club.
“I’m a little bit away from that because even if I go to see the Under-21s, I haven’t been able to see the Under-18s this year.
“I’m trying. If not, I’ll see them in the FA Youth Cup.
“But the idea is to keep an eye on them and see what they do.”