Sunderland winger tipped to come back from England duty a better player

Sunderland Under-21 boss Andy Welsh
Sunderland Under-21 boss Andy Welsh
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Sunderland winger Rees Greenwood has been backed to return a better player after time away with the England Under-20 squad.

Greenwood, who has established himself as a key player for Andy Welsh's Under-21 side, played 90 minutes against Canada Under-20s at the weekend, with the Young Lions beaten 2-1.

Sunderland Under-21s are chasing the title and boss Welsh has praised the winger's impact - as he looks forward to Greenwood coming back an even better player after his spell away with the national side.

Promising Greenwood, 20, is among a select group of youngsters that boss Sam Allardyce has been keen to get involved with the first team squad in training and on matchdays.

Welsh said: "Rees Greenwood and Tom Robson were both involved in the first-team squad that played Newcastle United the other week and it's all part of their development to experience days like that.

"It's intense and a high pressure game so they’ll see all that and eventually they’ll be able to have some involvement in the game, but for the time being just to be around it is very important.

"It's great that the manager and the coaching staff gave them the opportunity; Rees went out onto the pitch and warmed up and for him to experience the atmosphere will help him a lot.

"It was such a big game for the first-team in terms of the importance for the region and the Premier League, so for them to be a part of that it's great.

"Rees has had a great month and he deserved the accolade of Barclays U21 Premier League Player of the Month; his performances have been great and now he has an opportunity to show what he can do on the international stage.

"Hopefully Rees takes a lot from the experience with England and returns to the club a better player to help us make one final push in the league," Welsh told the club's website.

Greenwood, named the Barclays U21 Premier League Player of the Month for February, played the full 90 minutes for England Under-20s in the defeat to Canada - a result that left England coach Keith Downing frustrated.

He added: "We had a slow start, conceded early, then we became a bit frenetic and desperate and ultimately lacked a bit of quality, so I am feeling frustrated."