SUNDERLAND youngster George Honeyman would have been given a longer debut, had Gus Poyet not been fretting over several injury concerns last weekend.
Attacking midfielder Honeyman became the latest academy product to graduate to the first-team when he came off the bench in last weekend’s FA Cup upset at League One Bradford.
But Honeyman – who has caught the eye for the Under-21s over recent weeks – had little opportunity to impress after being introduced with just four minutes of normal time remaining, when Sunderland were in the doldrums.
Head coach Poyet had hoped to throw the 20-year-old into the fray sooner though.
However, he was sweating on knocks to defensive trio John O’Shea, Wes Brown and Billy Jones, while Danny Graham was replaced at half-time with concussion.
Poyet told the Echo: “Unfortunately, it was a bad day.
“George would have been coming on earlier because we needed a bit of his running between the lines and ability to make runs.
“But we had Billy 50-50, John was 50-50 too and Wes had cramps.
“We only had two changes left and I was waiting.”
Honeyman became the second academy product to make his first-team debut this month after fellow midfielder Liam Agnew came off the bench in the FA Cup fourth round replay win at Fulham.
And Poyet is keen to have a couple of youngsters constantly fighting for first-team inclusion, who can make the most of their opportunity when injuries or suspensions begin to bite.
“Give me 22 players and two or three from the academy all the time and I would be happy,” added Poyet.
“And then it’s up to them.
“You never know. They have to be ready if they get a chance.”