DAVID MOBERG Karlsson hopes to build a case for first-team promotion in Sunderland’s Under-21 squad.
Summer signing Moberg Karlsson is yet to feature under Gus Poyet, with the Swede not even included on the bench since the Uruguayan was appointed as Black Cats head coach.
The £1.5million winger impressed during pre-season, but his only first-team appearance for Sunderland came in August’s Capital One Cup victory over League One MK Dons.
After dropping out of contention, Poyet wants the 19-year-old to re-build his confidence for the U21s and he has been a regular for Kevin Ball’s side over recent weeks; playing 88 minutes in a friendly against Leeds on Monday.
The Swedish U19 international could be included again tonight, with a Sunderland XI – featuring Lee Cattermole, Valentin Roberge and El-Hadji Ba – taking on Darlington in a friendly at Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland.
And Moberg Karlsson hopes that regular football at U21 level will see him catch the eye of Poyet and earn him a Premier League debut before the end of the season.
“The manager has told me that I will play in the under-21 team to regain my confidence,” said the former IFK Gothenburg man.
“I thought I would fight for a spot on the bench in the Premier League, but I’m just starting to rebuild my confidence.
“The club still believe in me and they have told me that I should not see it as a defeat.
“It’s a tough step from the Swedish league to the Premier League.
“It went well in the pre-season friendlies, but there is a difference when the serious stuff begins.
“Of course you want to play, no matter where you are.
“But if you had told me a year ago that I would have the chance to play in the Premier League in 2014, I would have laughed at it.
“Once you’re here though, you want to play.”
Moberg Karlsson’s has a greater chance of impressing the first-team head coach under Poyet than Paolo Di Canio, with the former Brighton boss employing a more integrated approach to training with the U21s.
He added: “They have an eye on me. If you play well or do well in training then you may come up to the first team.
“Under Paolo Di Canio, the under-21 team were completely separate. They did not play in the first team, so they played nowhere.”
Cattermole will be the star attraction of tonight’s game, with the midfielder making his first appearance since he was sent off for the sixth time in his Sunderland career at Hull earlier this month.
The 25-year-old will serve the final match of his subsequent three-game ban in this weekend’s trip to Stoke City, but before then, Cattermole will feature against the Quakers (kick-off 7.30pm).
Tickets are priced at £6 for adults, £4 for concessions and £2 for children.