Young cohort handed significant chance to impress as Sunderland's pre-season campaign begins
Sunderland's academy products are beng handed a major opportunity to impress as the club's pre-season campaign begins.
The Black Cats returned to the Academy of Light on Monday with Lee Johnson's squad in the ealry stages of an extensive rebuild.
Seven players were released in the aftermath of the play-off semi final defeat to Lincoln City in May, while four further players are still weighing up contract offers from the club.
With the club still looking to make its first signing fo the summer window, numbers are understandably low and that means that Lee Johnson will be taking a close look at a cohort of players who impressed in the U23 set up last season.
With Sunderland facing Spennymoor Town in their first friendly on Saturday, there are significant opportunities to impress on the horizon.
Ellis Taylor, Josh Hawkes, Dan Neil, Ollie Younger and Anthony Patterson are all players in line for chances.
Speaking earlier this summer, Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman said: "They've had an incredible period of time over the second half of the season, we feel the team's played slightly more towards the Sunderland that we want.
"They've benefitted from getting the rewards out of that and that's given a bit of momentum. We had a fantastic game down at Selhurst Park and it was another demonstration of how the fans can make the environment to try and inspire the players. "Everyone is gutted that again you fall short by such a small margin, but again we're proud of the players and we've got a cohort of that group that's going to come into the first-team squad for the start of next season."