Sunderland coach discusses Harry Gardiner's first-team prospects ahead of Norwich City fixture
Sunderland Under-21s boss Graeme Murty says Harry Gardiner was frustrated following the side’s 4-1 win over Stoke City – despite scoring twice.
The 19-year-old forward appeared to have scored a hat-trick in the Premier League 2, Division 2, fixture, yet it was deemed Sunderland’s fourth goal went in off opposition defender David Okagbue.
“He’s angry because the centre-half got a touch and then he had another chance later on and wanted a hat-trick,” said Murty when discussing Gardiner’s performance.
“That’s a great thing for us because hungry strikers being like that, wanting to score goals, disappointed when they don’t get that one is a great sign for their development and making sure he has that ruthless nature that all good goalscorers need.
“Although he got two he’ll have wanted three, and if he’d got three he’d have wanted four. I actually love that and think it’s a little bit of a reward for all the hard work he does for the team.
“He’s a really selfless worker, he puts a lot of pressure on at least two centre-halves, probably the holding midfielder as well, and we need to get him and feed him the ball because, as he’s shown, he can put the ball away.”
Gardiner has taken his opportunity in the under-21s side, following an ankle injury to fellow forward Max Thompson, and was shortlisted for February’s Premier League 2 Player of the Month award.
Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray was in attendance at Eppleton CW for the win over Stoke, as several first-team players including Joe Anderson, Pierre Ekwah, Isaac Lihadji, Abdoullah Ba and Jewison Bennette featured.
When asked how close he thinks Gardiner is to the first team, Murty added: “All he has to do is make sure that when he gets in front of the gaffer’s eyes, he does his level best to make a striking impression.
“That’s all we say to the players that when you get in front of the manager, when you can get in front of the technical director, make sure they walk away talking about you.
“He’s scored two goals so I don’t think he’s done a bad job.”