Jamie McAllister reacts to Ollie Younger's league debut and explains why he played at right-back
Jamie McAllister hailed Ollie Younger for proving that Sunderland were right to trust his talents after a steady league debut.
The 21-year-old, who joined the U23 set up this summer after leaving Burnley, played 50 minutes for the Black Cats in their crucial 2-0 win over Rochdale.
Younger had impressed when called upon in the Papa John's Trophy this season, but the pressure of a crunch league fixture was always going to present a different challenge.
Stepping in at right back, Younger produced an excellent clearance just before the half-time interval to protect his side's two-goal lead.
Though Sunderland expect their defensive injury crisis to ease in the near future as Conor McLaughlin, Bailey Wright and Tom Flanagan all near a return, it was a bonus that Younger has showen he is a dependable option when called upon.
"He was steady eddie for us," McAllister said.
"We've got total trust and belief in Ollie, he's been training really well and I thought it was a very accomplished debut.We just felt that we needed to change the shape a bit.
"He's shown that from day one of us coming in, that we can trust him.
"He's been first class in training.
"He's strong and powerful, good 1-v-1, and he just loves defending, he has a great attitude on that. Steady on the ball, too.
"We were looking forward to seeing him today, getting him in the side.
"There've been a few games where we've almost put him in, but we didn't just for different reasons.
"He handled it really well today."
A centre-half by nature, Younger did have some difficult moments in possession as he adjusted to what is an unfamilar role.
McAllister explained that he and Johnson had been eager not to break up a partnership at the heart of defence that has produced impressive results.
"Exactly that," he said.
"We're trying to build partnerships all over the pitch because it's such an important part of the game.
"Dion and Luke have been excellent.
"We knew it weould help with Dion alongside him as well because he's been such a good communicator of late. You miss that when Bailey Wright or Granty don't play.
"Dion has stepped up and been excellent on that."