George Honeyman set to retain Sunderland place after impressing Simon Grayson

Honeyman impressed against Derby
Honeyman impressed against Derby
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Simon Grayson will lay down a marker to his Sunderland squad by giving George Honeyman another chance to impress in the first XI.

Honeyman was a surprise selection for the season opener against Derby County, with the likes of Wahbi Khazri having to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.

The 22-year-old played well in an unfamiliar right wing role, particularly in the first half as the Black Cats dominated the contest.

With the likes of Josh Maja nearing a return from injury and Joel Asoro looking to push for first team inclusion, Grayson says the opportunities will be there for those who show they are ready to take them.

Ahead of tonight’s Carabo Cup trip to Bury, he said: “It’s a sign to the younger players who have impressed me in the U23 games that they can be involved and they will get opportunities.

“That’s how I work, and George has done enough to keep the shirt for the next game, I’m pretty sure of that.”

Honeyman could prove to be a key player for the Sunderland boss, who went for an attacking line-up at the Stadium of Light, with Aiden McGeady, James Vaughan and Lewis Grabban all starting.

The youngster could offer much-needed balance to the side.

Grayson said: “He’s shown good attitude in pre-season, his youthful exuberance has meant that he’s not frightened of getting on the ball.

“He’s not really been part of the group over last year and suffered a hangover, but he’s a talented player and he has the enthusiasm and the willingness to get up and down the pitch.

“He helped the shape of the team, with McGeady being a bit more loose on one side, George would give us more stability on the other.”

Honeyman earned a new one-year deal after some encouraging cameos towards the end of last season, particularly in the 2-0 win over Hull City at the KCOM Stadium.

Then boss David Moyes was impressed with his industry, but Honeyman hopes playing in the second tier will allow him to show off his creative talents further up the field.

He said: “The manager gives us licence to do whatever in the final third, be creative and I think we were doing that. We were getting the balls into the box, we need to be more clinical and take those chances but hopefully that will come in time.

“Assists and goals, that’s major if I’m going to keep playing in attacking positions, I’ll keep working on my game to bring that.”

Honeyman will be a key part of the side for a busy run of league and cup games, but will face futher competition for his place when Duncan Watmore returns.