Sunderland youngsters can challenge for first-team spot after Austria trip

Ethan Robson
Ethan Robson
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Sunderland’s young guns can challenge for first-team involvement this season after being included on the Black Cats’ Austrian training camp, says Sam Allardyce.

With no summer signings on board, a number of players given extra time off during the summer and those considered surplus to requirements left behind to train at the Academy of Light, Allardyce opted to include nine regulars from last season’s Under-21s side for Sunderland’s nine-day trip to the Alps.

Tommy, Ethan and Josh Robson, Lynden Gooch, Josh Maja, Rees Greenwood, Tom Beadling, George Honeyman and Max Stryjek have all been involved alongside the first-team squad in Austria to help them further their development.

Greenwood, Honeyman and Tommy Robson all made their first-team debuts on the final day of last season at Watford, and Sunderland boss Allardyce wants to keep the pathway from the academy ranks in tact.

“We’ve got a lot of young players with us - a lot of last year’s Under-21 team, who are training with us on a regular basis,” he said.

“We’re hoping they’re going to flourish under the microscope of being with the first-team squad and play a part this season.

“How many? It’s too early to tell, but I certainly hope that’s the case based on what we’re seeing and what they achieved in the Watford game on the last day of last season.”

Sunderland will return to the North East at the end of this week, ahead of their first pre-season friendly at Hartlepool United on Wednesday, July 20.

But Allardyce believes Sunderland are already ahead of schedule in their preparations after being able to keep a close eye on the fitness of the Black Cats squad during the summer.

“The lads will have a few days off when we get back at the end of the week, and then we build up to game situations,” he added to the club website.

“I’m pleasantly pleased about the ability to do as many footballing sessions as we’ve done, and the quality of it.

“We made a specific effort this summer to send the lads all their off-season work.

“They had to log in with their heart-rate monitors and GPS systems so we knew they had done the work.

“Modern-day technology means that wherever they are in the world, we know what they’re doing, which allows them to be in the shape they are out here.

“The key ingredient now is steering clear of injuries, which can happen in pre-season. We’re paying a lot of attention to no contact in our football work.”