Gary Rowell reveals the advice he has for Sunderland's youngsters
When Chris Coleman rolled the dice and gambled on Josh Maja and Joel Asoro against Fulham, it was a statement of intent and should have been seen by all youngsters at the club as a signal that if you're good enough, you're old enough and you will be given a chance.
The fact that Coleman’s gamble paid off and Sunderland got a rare home win will only reinforce his faith in the kids and he has already shown that by selecting the likes of Gooch, Honeyman, Robson and Love, he isn’t afraid to blood youngsters with potential.
That faith has to be repaid though and if the young players are to be given opportunities, they have to produce consistent performances in return, not only for the benefit of the team, but also if they want a long career in the game.
The Sunderland boss has already said he doesn’t have much of a transfer kitty for new recruits, so all the more reason to bring on and develop the talent already at the club at the younger age levels.
I’ve come through the system myself, it is exciting and rewarding, especially these days and if I had any advice to give it would be to always believe in yourself, nothing drops in your lap so only you can make it happen.
Knock on the manager’s door even, if you think you’re worth a chance, as any manager would prefer that sort to a youngster who is talented but timid, as in a cut throat world you gave to be ruthless.
The two huge successes of the Sunderland academy over the last 10 years have been Jordan Henderson and Jordan Pickford, and with their club’s bleak financial situation, how we could do with more of that calibre coming through.
Whenever a club is struggling, the silver lining is young players get pushed forward, and shrewd managers, if they see potential, can refresh a tired team with energy and enthusiasm.
Youngsters at Sunderland now should be thinking this is my time, the team is out of sorts, the injury list is enormous, so I’m going to get an opportunity.
Time will tell how many of them will take it.