Sunderland's under-23s situation explained as Michael Proctor discusses his role since Alex Neil's appointment

Former Sunderland striker Michael Proctor expects to continue working with the club’s under-23s side next season after leading the team for most of the 2021/22 campaign.

Friday, 13th May 2022, 6:00 am

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

Proctor was working as the under-23s’ assistant manager up until October last year, when Elliott Dickman left his position as lead coach to join North East rivals Newcastle.

Since then, Proctor and Mike Dodds, who joined Sunderland as Head of Individual Player Development from Birmingham last summer, have been overseeing Sunderland’s under-23s setup.

The pair have also been part of the first-team coaching staff and took charge of the senior squad for matches against Doncaster Rovers and Cheltenham following Lee Johnson’s sacking.

Sunderland coach Michael Proctor.

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

While that period proved extremely challenging for Sunderland, Proctor and Dodds have continued to work with the first-team coaching staff following Alex Neil’s appointment as head coach in February.

When asked about his role in recent months, Proctor told the Echo: “It’s been good.

“Obviously myself and Mike have been around the first team and those sort of ideas have been filtering down into the 23s so can only help everyone.

“Doddsy has been around the first team a little bit more than I have just to aid that transition and the manager has sort of kept us both around that just to help the 23s and also give him an extra pair of eyes.

“I think we have both enjoyed it and it helps with the young players as well stepping into the first team just to have a familiar face around.

“It’s been good and the biggest plus has been to help the development of the young players.”

Asked if he will continue to work with the under-23s squad next season, Proctor replied: “I’m not sure to be honest.

“I would imagine so, I think it will be myself and Mike with the 23s.”

Sunderland took a couple of players on trial to play in their under-23s side at the end of this season, including Leeds defender Joe Littlewood and Fulham defender Xavier Benjamin.

The Young Black Cats finished 13th out of 14 teams in Premier League 2, Division 2.