Sunderland boss Chris Coleman has backed Ethan Robson to fight his way back into the first-team picture and sees the 21-year-old as a big part of the club’s future.
Robson recently put pen to paper on a new two-year deal that will keep him at the club until the summer of 2020 at least.
The midfielder has been an unused substitute in Sunderland’s last two Championship games, last appearing in the 2-0 defeat to Brentford on February 17.
He was taken off at half-time in that game, but Coleman expects him to come good and he could yet play a part in Sunderland’s attempt to beat the drop.
The ex-Wales manager said: “I was pleased to get him signed up. He’s a terrific kid, works hard, wants to improve.
“It’s hard for him, we’ve given him game time in some of the matches, but you can’t put that type of pressure on someone so young week in, week out.
“It’s hard enough with [Joel] Asoro and [Josh] Maja, but we’ve got no choice really.
“Robbo will come again though, he’s got that attitude, he wants to progress.
“He puts it in in training, then he’s disappointed when he’s not involved, which is a good sign. So I’m pleased he’s put pen to paper.”
Coleman expects a group of Sunderland’s young players to form the spine of his side in the coming months, with Asoro and Maja set to be offered long-term contracts.
George Honeyman, who signed a two-year deal last year, has impressed the Sunderland boss with his attitude and expects him to be a crucial part of his plans, alongside Robson.
Coleman said: “Those type of lads, and I said it last week about George Honeyman’s attitude, if you could bottle it… George knows the parts of his game that he’s short on, but what he’s not short on is enthusiasm and attitude.
“He’s got the heart the size of a dustbin lid, one of the best I’ve ever worked with. You need your George Honeymans, not everyone is like that.
“It’s not all on his shoulders but someone with his attitude, you can work with people like that.”