“Big talent” Rees Greenwood has been challenged to put the finishing touch to his eye-catching dribbling skills.
Greenwood is one of the brightest prospects coming through Sunderland’s ranks, with the winger penning a new three-year deal last month, midway through his first season as a regular for the Under-21s.
The 19-year-old was Sunderland’s main attacking threat in last night’s 1-0 defeat to PSV Eindhoven, as the Black Cats were eliminated at the quarter final stage of the Premier League International Cup.
But Greenwood was let down by a lack of precision on his final cross or shot, which development coach Andy Welsh is keen to fine-tune.
“Rees is a big talent and I thought he was excellent,” said Welsh. “He got into the box in good areas and he’s dribbling skills on his right and left are very good.
“But he just needs to get his shots off quickly at this level.
“He’ll learn that though. These sort of nights will do him the world of good.”
There was little between the sides at the Stadium of Light, yet PSV grabbed the only goal of the game during a 15-minute spell of dominance at the start of the second half.
Sunderland struggled to offer a threat on the PSV goal, yet had strong appeals for a penalty waved away when striker Andrew Nelson went down and was booked for simulation.
Welsh said: “I thought it was a penalty. I don’t see why he would go down when he was goal-side of the defender.
“But it’s the referee that matters and he didn’t give it.
“I thought it was a really tight game - it was almost like a game of chess at times.
“But it’s fine margins at this level. We just couldn’t find that cutting edge or finish in the final third really.
“I’m obviously disappointed to go out of the tournament, because it’s been such a learning experience for the club and the young players.
“We had seven Under-18s in the squad and we’ve got to see three of those lads in a big game environment.”