Chris Coleman admits his younger stars may feel they are going through ‘hell’ at struggling Sunderland but he has told them they will be better players for the experience.
The Black Cats boss has put his faith in youth since taking charge with teenagers Josh Maja (pictured) and Joel Asoro and 23-year-olds George Honeyman and Tyias Browning all regulars.
Sunderland added young loanees Jake Clarke-Salter (20), Ashley Fletcher (22) and Ovie Ejaria (20) in January, while 21-year-old academy graduate Ethan Robson has also broken through recently.
Ahead of tomorrow’s trip to face play-off hopefuls Bristol City, Sunderland are deep in relegation trouble.
Second bottom of the Championship and two points adrift with just 16 games left to play.
Coleman remains adamant the club’s fortunes will soon turn for the better but in the meantime he believes the tough challenge facing the club’s younger players will only help their development.
“Our younger players will be better for this experience, they will get better and learn,” said Coleman.
“They won’t know it yet, at the moment they will be thinking this is hell, this is so tough.
“But it is just getting through it and then it makes sense, you look back and say ‘okay, I’ve had that experience and I’m better for it.’ They have to get through it. The older players have been there before, they don’t like it, none of us do but they have been here before.
“The younger players, who haven’t experienced it, need to realise they will be a lot better for it. That is for sure.”
Against Hull City recently Sunderland named six players under the age of 23 in the starting line-up.