Sunderland kick-off their Checkatrade Trophy campaign tonight – and Elliott Dickman is anticipating a tough evening against League One Scunthorpe United.
Sunderland U21s are one of the invited Category One teams again taking part in the competition which sparked controversy last year over its format and low attendances.
Dickman will lead the team against a Scunthorpe side at Glanford Park tonight (KO 7.45pm) that has enjoyed a strong start to the season. Unbeaten Iron are sixth with eight points from their opening four league games.
“It’s a chance for some of the lads to pit themselves against seasoned professionals and this is a great opportunity to see how they handle it,” said Dickman.
“It is a game we are looking forward to. Scunthorpe are a good team and play different formations, they have brought some good players in this summer.
“They are a tough opposition. Our first team played them in the summer and it was competitive game so will be a big challenge but that is what we want.
“These type of competitions are great for the younger lads to play against the older, seasoned professionals.”
Under the rules of the competition, invited teams must play at least six players under the age of 21 as of June 30th this year, which means there is scope to play five older players.
“It will be a tough competition. We might get some players from the first team but we will wait and see on that,” added Dickman.
“From my point of view I want the younger players to enjoy the experience. It won’t be easy, Scunthorpe have a good manager and some good players and play good football. It will be a good test for us. You can’t beat this opportunity.”
Sunderland U21s, knocked out by Wolves in the second round last year, then face League One outfit Doncaster Rovers on October 3 before closing the group stages with a trip to League Two side Grimsby Town on November 8.