Vito Mannone insists Sunderland’s inexperienced side must bounce back straightaway – as there is no time to waste in the Premier League.
Sunderland are pointless after back-to-back defeats, with Cristhian Stuani’s first-half double for Middlesbrough sinking the Black Cats at the Stadium of Light.
Patrick van Aanholt restored some hope but Boro comfortably saw out the rest of the game to win the first Wear-Tees derby league game since 2009.
With injuries ravaging David Moyes’s already threadbare squad, the Scot had little option but to field several youngsters and a patched-up defence.
Donald Love, Lynden Gooch, Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair were all in from the start.
The season is in its infancy, but the Italian knows that third-bottom Sunderland – who haven’t won a league game in August since 2012 – can’t afford another slow start.
“I think some of the boys did very well to play in a derby game. It is difficult, first home game of the season and a lot of pressure,” said Mannone.
“When you go 2-0 down, you need to show character and make the right decisions every time and it is not easy.
“It is difficult, but the young players fought so hard and did well for us.
“We can see some good players coming up and hopefully when we get the full squad back we will be OK.
“We need to bounce back straight away – we know from experiences in the past that we don’t have time.”
Despite morale-sapping defeats to Manchester City and North East rivals Boro, Mannone insists he has seen enough positives to suggest it won’t dent the youngsters’ confidence.
He added: “As a youngster, when you come into a team it is always nice to have some experience next to you who can get you through and then you can show what you have got a little easier.
“When you have to be the man out there to make the right decision every time – it is the Premier League – as soon as you make a mistake they find you out and you have to be spot on for 90 minutes.
“We have seen enough at Manchester City and against Middlesbrough some positive things. We need to keep our chin up and work on it.”
Mannone could only watch on as Stuani’s 13th minute strike sailed into his top right-hand corner to give Boro the lead.
“I thought we didn’t start badly. We were on the front foot and tried to create chances. It was pretty even until the wonder goal, to be honest,” added Mannone.
“It was a very good strike and then we let ourselves down for the last 10 to 15 minutes in the first half and that was our main mistake.
“We should be more experienced, on the pitch, to deal with it and deal with the loss of John O’Shea, losing him had an impact on the game, especially with the situation we have at the moment with the centre-backs.
“It takes a lot of effort to score that first goal and after that we looked a little bit tired, to find the net again.
“We need to think about the positives and what we can do better, train on it and as the manager says he is working hard to get players in.
“Somebody will come into help us and maintain a high level and high standard to get the points we need.”