Sam Allardyce gives his verdict on Sunderland trio after making their Premier League debuts
Sunderland's three Premier League debutants made a positive impression Sam Allardyce - who was grateful mistakes from the officials didn't cost his side.
Allardyce made nine changes at Vicarage Road, with DeAndre Yedlin and Lamine Kone the only survivors from the midweek win over Everton that sealed the club's top flight status.
Winger Rees Greenwood and promising left-back Tommy Robson were both handed starts against Watford, while attacking midfielder George Honeyman made his bow from the bench in the second half.
Allardyce said: "The reason [behind the changes] was the players that had worked so hard to get us safe had no need to come out and exert themselves anymore and put themselves through the mill.
"The emphasis was on the players who hadn't played as much to show me what they have got for next season.
"And for the young lads to come in and say 'I'd love to get this opportunity on a regular basis.'
"They all played very well indeed and we matched Watford.
"We were unfortunate not to have won this game, by having decisions taken away from them by the officials. That is disappointing to say.
"We had a very good performance from 11 players who do not play on a regular basis yet matched a Watford side who were full strength on their own ground.
"A terrific end to the season for me with 12 points from the last six games.
"To finish undefeated was very important, it is a really good end to what has been a very difficult season."
When asked which of the trio stood out, he added: "We know what Dunc and Pickford can do.
"[Out of] Rees and George, Rees was probably the better of the two in terms of his contribution.
"Tom seeing through the whole game looked very comfortable at left-back."
Sunderland's status as a top flight team had already been assured thanks to the 3-0 win over Everton, making the season finale at Watford a dead-rubber.
It was an entertaining end to the campaign though, with Sunderland taking the lead through Jack Rodwell's 39th minute goal.
Duncan Watmore had a perfectly good goal ruled out for offside before Watford hit back after the break, on what was Quique Sanchez Flores' final game as Hornets boss.
Sebastian Prodl levelled within three minutes of the re-start, Sunderland hitting back almost immediately through Jeremain Lens' low strike.
There was further controversy when Dame N'Doye saw a diving header ruled offside, with replays showing it was a borderline decision, before Troy Deeney levelled from the spot.
When asked if Allardyce was relieved the relegation scrap didn't go down to the final day, he said: "Yes, especially with some of the decisions.
"If we needed three points and we only got one we would have been in serious trouble with the offside decision and the penalty - which we didn't think was a penalty.
"We have no control over those big decisions and I'm glad those major decisions have not affected our status in the league."