SUNDERLAND’S summer of rebuilding will not see talented young players at the club squeezed out of the picture, promises Steve Bruce.
The Black Cats’ boss is on course to make up to 10 new signings this summer – possibly more – as he seeks to plug big gaps in his squad and increase its strength.
He’s going for quality and for proven track records as he looks to bolster a squad which was wafer-thin at times last season and has already recruited a trio of new faces in Keiren Westwood, Seb Larsson and Ji Dong-won.
But the potential signing of almost an entire team of players will not be allowed to stop Academy players coming through the ranks to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jordan Henderson and Jack Colback.
Bruce told the Echo: “I can’t stress how important our youth system is to us.
“We’ve got a lot of promising young lads who could come through in the next season or two and we’ll be making room for them to do so, regardless of what happens in the close season.
“I see a lot of talent in the Academy and we’re hoping that one or two could soon be flourishing in the first team.
“The club has won the league at under 18 level, the reserves almost won their league and as far as those young players go, we’ve got to keep developing them and teaching them the right things.
“Ged McNamee and Kevin Ball have done a fantastic job at youth level and there’s one or two who could have really bright futures.
“We had two in the team at the end of last season in the shape of Jordan Henderson and Jack Colback and how many Premier League clubs can say that? Two home grown players in their starting 11?
“For that achievement, we can say well done to those two players and to the Academy that produced them,
“But we’ve got to try to ensure that this is only the beginning and we give every young player who could make the grade, the opportunity to progress.”
Among the prospects on the fringes of Sunderland’s first team are strikers Ryan Noble and Jordan Cook, midfielders Craig Lynch and Billy Knott, defender Louis Laing and goalkeeper Jordan Pickford.
Bruce observed: “I’ve got a few young lads bubbling underneath who’ve impressed me and who’ve got a chance.
“A lot of them can expect to be going out on loan next season because I haven’t wavered from that view – that you send your young lads out on loan and see how they stand up to it.
“It didn’t do Jordan or Jack any harm and it’s another part of young players’ education in the modern game.
“Then, when they come back from their loans, you hope that they’ve come on another step.
“I hope that will prove to be the case with the current crop of lads, because I think there’s some exciting young players and we acknowledged that by regularly including a few in our first team squad towards the end of the season.
“I don’t think anyone doubts we’ve now got a busy summer ahead of us in the transfer market but it won’t be at the expense of players coming through.
“If the young lads prove they’re good enough, they’ll get their chance – just like Jordan and Jack did.”