Sunderland’s young guns are expected to be included on their pre-season trip to North America.
Dick Advocaat has involved several members of the Under-21 squad during first-team training since the Sunderland players returned to pre-season last week, with left-back Tommy Robson and centre-half Tom Beadling both featuring.
Despite playing for England Under-20s in the summer’s Toulon tournament, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has also been back at the Academy of Light, with head coach Dick Advocaat understood to be keen on including the Washington-born stopper in proceedings while doubts persist over the future of second-choice keeper Vito Mannone.
With winger Duncan Watmore also due to return to training this week – after his extra time off for his involvement with England U20s – several of those home-grown players could feature in tomorrow night’s opening pre-season friendly against non-league Darlington 1883.
Advocaat is planning to name a different XI for each half against the Quakers at Bishop Auckland’s Heritage Park – handing the chance for the club’s youngsters to catch his eye.
But it is understood that Advocaat will take a closer look at several of the first-team hopefuls during Sunderland’s 12-day stint in the USA and Canada, with the squad flying out to California this weekend.
Beadling, Pickford and Watmore are all expected to be among the party that travels across the Atlantic for Sunderland’s games against Sacramento Republic, Club de Futbol Pachuca and Toronto FC.
Advocaat is not blessed with an abundance of numbers for the tour, with Sunderland still looking for a further four or five recruits in the transfer market, despite the captures of Sebastian Coates and Adam Matthews.