Elliott Dickman admits under-23s still have a lot of learning to do before they're ready for the first team
Sunderland Under-23s manager Elliott Dickman believes his current side still have a lot of learning to do before they can step up into the first team.
Last season the likes of Bali Mumba, Elliot Embleton and Luke Molyneux all used the under-23s as a stepping stone to break into the senior side.
But, Dickman isn’t expecting any more of his players to be fast tracked into Jack Ross’ squad just yet.
“It’s not easy to play for the first team at any level, so the lads that are with the first team at the minute it’s great for them,” said Dickman following Sunderland’s 2-1 defeat to Stoke in their Premier League 2, Division 2, opener.
“I think the group that are with us at this moment in time have still got a lot to learn, have got a lot of developing to do.
“Some have had an opportunity with the first team, whether it’s training or whether it’s actually with them so that experience is obviously just as good as being around them on a matchday.
“From our point of view these young lads have still got a lot to learn and hopefully they can step up, it might be a year it might be two years but they’ve shown signs of their progression and they’ve got to continue to do that.”
Sunderland's youngsters, who were relegated from the top-flight last season, looked to be heading towards a winning start after Jake Hackett’s first-half opener.
However, Stoke dominated possession after the break and managed to turn the match around, courtesy of goals from Oliver Shenton and Tyrese Campbell in the final 17 minutes.
Yet Dickman, who first took charge of the team in January 2017, still believed his side deserved something from the game.
“I thought there was a lot of hard work and a lot of commitment. I think once we took the lead we definitely didn’t deserve to lose the game.
“I thought it was a decent display up until the last 10 minutes when I just felt we maybe ran out of legs a little bit in certain positions.”
Left-back Reece James played the first 45 minutes of the match, as he continued to step up his recovery from a groin injury.
The defender hasn’t played for the first team since arriving from Wigan in the summer but was pencilled in to play by first-team staff on Saturday evening.
Dickman also handed debuts to new signings Jordan Hunter, Jack Bainbridge and goalkeeper Max Johnstone, and believes all three have added something to the side.
“They’ve done smashing since they joined the club. Between the three of them they’ve done great,” said Dickman.
“They should be disappointed that they’ve conceded goals as a unit but also as a team.
“But in the main fair play to the lads, they’ve stepped into this group and they’ve added something to it and hopefully they’ll be able to continue to develop and improve.”