GUS Poyet has lavished praise on young players who are using the pre-season to try making an impression on him.
And he says that focused attitude is what is needed in the season ahead if the squad is to reach its full potential.
Sunderland’s opening pre-season friendly, the 5-1 win over Darlington 1883 on Saturday, saw a host of youngsters used - Duncan Watmore, El-Hadji Ba, George Honeyman, David Ferguson, Charis Mavrias and David Moberg Karlsson.
And Poyet says that among all the other things on his mind in the close-season, the youngsters’ approach has been a welcome upside.
“I’m glad you’ve asked me about the young players,” Poyet told the Echo after the victory on Saturday.
“They deserve to be recognised for the hard work they’ve put in since the return to training.”
On Saturday at Heritage Park, he asked wingers Watmore and Mavrias to play as full-backs.
And he said: “They took up those positions without complaint or problems and they applied themselves from the start.
“That’s the sort of attitude I’m talking about - a willingness to do whatever is asked of them and just to get on with it, looking to be positive all the time.
“I would like to thank them for playing right-back - a position we don’t currently have covered.
“The boys were fantastic
“They willingly did a job for us and that was good for the team as well.
“It was great experience for them as well too though but I’m grateful to them because it was not easy to create a couple of back fours.
“And of course it is an opportunity for them and for other young players.”
The likes of Watmore, Ba and Mavrias, with a first season under their belts at the Stadium of Light, could be facing big campaigns ahead in 2014-15.
And other prospects will also have a chance to catch the eye in the next few weeks as Poyet remodels his squad.
“Against Darlington, we didn’t use Nacho Scocco, Adam Johnson or Liam Bridcutt so we needed to involve a few of the young players.
“David Ferguson has been training with the first team since we returned and as for George Honeyman, we pulled him from the Under 21s at the last minute.
“We are making sure we try to use the right players at the right time but there’s no doubt that when some players are not being used, others have a chance to show their worth.
“We have games coming up this week against Carlisle United and Hartlepool and these players need to show their worth, to show that they are good enough to be part of the final squad - which, as you know, probably won’t be finalised until the end of the window.”