Sunderland debutant believes youngsters have shown fans and Stewart Donald that they're good enough for next season
Luke Molyneux has his first taste of senior football on his belt and within moments, his thoughts turned to the next.
Stewart Donald watched on as the 20-year-old made a successful debut against Wolves, part of a cohort of youngsters who impressed in the 3-0 win over Wolves.
Like all at the club, their futures are uncertain, but it seems clear that academy products will have a major part to play in any rebuild.
With a new manager at the helm, Molyneux sees pre-season as the perfect opportunity to stake a claim for a regular spot.
He said: “There’s probably going to be quite a lot of change this summer.
“A lot of things will probably happen, but depending on who the manager is, you’d think there might be a chance for some more of us young players to get a chance in the team.
“All I need to do now is focus on pre-season because I think pre-season is going to be massive for me.
“It’s going to be a huge part of my season because that’s what sets you off. I want to come back at the start of next season.
“I’m looking forward to pre-season already to be fair. Just playing out there is amazing.
“It gives you a massive buzz, so I just can’t wait to come back in and hopefully get another chance.
“Hopefully, the new owner saw at the Wolves game that the fans are amazing, and also saw that we gave it everything we’ve got.
“We didn’t just accept what’s been going on, we give it our all.
“Hopefully, he’s seen that and he’ll see it again next season and we’ll get straight back up into the Championship.”
The win was all the sweeter for Molyneux, who fought back from a serious injury earlier in the season.
“I did the ligaments in my knee,” he said.
“I was out for three months with that, and it was a big thing to get my head around. It wasn’t even a tackle of anything that did it, it was just in training.
“We were practising set-pieces the day before a game because we were at Hull the next day, and then the ball came in and I was back-pedalling.
“My knee just went. It was really that simple. I was watching Koscielny the other day, and he did the same thing and now they’re talking about him being out for six months.
“It was more mental than anything else. You need to stay confident the whole time that you’re injured.
“I knew I was going to be able to perform when I came back, it was more about fitness than anything. But I did get back fit and I was able to score a few goals.”
Molyneux believes the future is bright for Sunderland’s young talent, with Bali Mumba and Denver Hume also making their debut in the final game of the season.
He said: “It’s a great club to be part of as a young player. Right from the very start, we’ve been brought up to play in a certain way, and I think you see that when we step up into the first team.
“We play how we have been all along. To take that into a first team game and show the fans what we can do is great.
“We’re not just a bunch of kids – we can play and compete at a senior level. We’ve got belief in ourselves, but it’s good to be able to show that to the fans.
“There’s various ages that have come through pretty much together. We’ve got a lot of younger lads that are moving up.
“We’ve got a lot of Under-18s in our squad, and obviously Bali is just 16, but we are a very close group.
“There are obviously lads that have left now, who have been a big part of the squad, but we are close and we are always chatting away. It’s all good.”