ROBBIE STOCKDALE was pleased with the contribution of Sunderland’s first-team contingent after a quartet dropped down to the Under-21s set-up.
The four unused substitutes from Saturday’s 8-0 mauling at Southampton – Danny Graham, Cabral, Charis Mavrias and Costel Pantilimon – all started last night’s clash with Leicester City at the Stadium of Light in front of watching head coach Gus Poyet.
Development coach Stockdale gave all three outfield players at least an hour before they with withdrawn, before skipper Liam Agnew secured victory with a late penalty.
Stockdale said: “I think you can see by their performances, they’re happy to be involved.
“I took them off because they looked a bit leggy after training yesterday morning.
“I wanted to put some of the young boys on too for them to experience what those first-team lads have experienced before.”
He added: “The Under-21s League this year is very competitive in that aspect (involvement of first-team players).
“We’ve played competitive games all the way through.
“We mentioned it to the first-team players dropping down that if you think it’s going to be easy, it’s not. These are good technical, physical players.
“Obviously, they’ve got points to prove as well and want to be playing in the first-team, so if we can help in any way we can, we will.”
Agnew’s penalty – after Rees Greenwood was brought down – was just rewards for Sunderland, who had dominated the encounter, yet failed to profit from their opportunities.
“I was pleased with the players,” said Stockdale. “I thought to a man they put a shift in. We should have won the game by more, when you have the dominance that we had in the last 10 or 15 minutes.
“Leicester had some strong players and were a threat on the counter-attack, but I think we got a bit anxious and went chasing it.
“But thankfully we got the goal through some good player down the left. Rees got into the box with a great touch and we got a penalty.
“We played like that at West Ham in the last game – had chance after chance and got hit by a couple of sucker punches.
“We were mindful of that, although we didn’t want to dwell on that.
“These are young players and need to learn you can’t make the same mistakes twice, but I don’t think we did.”