Robbie Stockdale has spoken of his pride after SIX academy graduates played a part in Sunderland’s 3-0 win over champions Wolves.
The caretaker boss handed a debut to Luke Molyneux, the 20-year-old drafted into the starting line-up after Kazenga LuaLua pulled up with an injury in the warm-up.
Impressive Molyneux started alongside Ethan Robson, 21, and Joel Asoro, 19, while Elliot Embleton, 19, Denver Hume, 21, and 16-year-old Bali Mumba came off the bench in the second half of the comfortable win.
George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch would have been involved too, but for injury.
Already relegated Sunderland made light work of Wolves, who have failed to beat Sunderland this season.
All of the youngsters involved are likely to play prominent roles in League One and caretaker boss Stockdale has spoken of his pride.
The former Under-23 coach, who stepped up to first-team coach two years ago, said: “It made me proud that some of them were lads that came through the youth system when I was coaching there,” he said.
“It was a proud moment for the football club.
“A lot of hard work goes into the young players and there would have been more involved if they were fit.
“This was a really proud moment for the younger players, but the senior players have been fantastic too.
“The environment they create for the younger players coming through ... you think of John O’Shea. He epitomises what a professional footballer should be. He is brilliant on the training ground, really organised on the pitch.
“The mix of senior and younger players was really good.”
Sunderland’s academy has a strong reputation of developing players with Jordan Pickford and Jordan Henderson both in the England squad.
Stockdale added: “Our academy has always produced players.
“George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch were injured but have played a big part this year too.
“Before I did the team meeting at the Academy of Light, we have a room where it is the scholar intake each year and they have their picture taken with the manager that year.
“Nearly every season we have had two players either still making a really good career in the game or in our first team – that’s not a bad statistic.”