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Sunderland Under-23s manager Elliott Dickman believes two players are close to a first-team call-up

Sunderland Under-23s manager Elliott Dickman.
Sunderland Under-23s manager Elliott Dickman.
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Sunderland Under-23s manager Elliott Dickman believes Benjamin Kimpioka and Jack Diamond are close to making the step up to the first team.

Dickman once again named a young side as his team were beaten 1-0 by Aston Villa at Eppleton CW, Hetton, on Monday night.

But the Sunderland manager was pleased with the effort levels shown by his players, and is adamant they are making progress against more experienced opponents in Premier League 2, Division 2.

Kimpioka and Diamond could even be selected by first-team manager Jack Ross for tomorrow's game against Peterborough.

"Benji was always going to play 45 minutes tonight and I think he's in the first-team squad for tomorrow night for the game against Peterborough," said Dickman.

"That's fantastic for Benji, I think he deserves it, he's probably been one of our better players throughout the season.

"I think Jack Diamond might be in the squad, I'm not sure if he'll make the bench or not but again he's in the squad after playing 90 minutes tonight.

"The manager and first-team staff were here tonight so they've obviously seen something, even if it's just the experience of being around the senior side, in the warm-up, in the changing room or being on the pitch, it's important for any young player's development."

Dickman also admitted his young side still have a lot to learn, but was happy with the response following last week's heavy defeat by Wolves.

Sunderland started and finished the game strongly against Villa, and had chances to nick a point late on.

"I thought we started the game quite well, had a couple of good chances but the effort and work rate of the lads I thought was good," added Dickman.

"I saw signs of what we're about, there're always bits that could be better, we want them to pass the ball, take care of possession a bit more, we could have maybe played out from the goalkeeper a bit more.

"It's just one or two decision-making aspects from the group but in general there are plenty of positives from individual aspects."