Sunderland boss Lee Johnson has told Chronicle Live that he is looking to manage the amount of game time that he gives to his young players this season.
The Black Cats have already made use of what has been a much younger squad this season, with the likes of Dan Neil, Callum Doyle, Dennis Cirkin and Niall Huggins all having featured on more than one occasion.
Amongst some of the youngest players in the squad, Johnson has looked to utilise their skill sets in key games and it has so far paid off, with the club currently well on track in their promotion bid in Sky Bet League One.
However the Sunderland boss was quick to stress that he is wary of how he manages these youngsters, as he stated the following about the quartet recently:
“We’ve got to be sensible with Dan.
“Not just him, but the likes of Callum Doyle, Dennis Cirkin, Niall Huggins.
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“You heard Gareth Southgate talking about this recently with Mason Greenwood and Jude Bellingham, protecting these young players and managing their workloads.
“It’s the same with our kids who are at a similar age.
“You’ve got to get a balance.”
Neil in particular has greatly impressed for his boyhood club since stepping up from the academy this term and scored his second senior goal of the season recently in the 2-1 away win over Lincoln City in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Meanwhile Sunderland will be back in league action on Saturday 16th October as they travel to Priestfield to take on Gillingham.
Johnson makes a very good point about managing the game time of these young players and it is clearly something that he has given a lot of thought.
All of the aforementioned individuals will want to play in every game but they will quickly learn that is about the team as a collective rather than anything else.
The youngsters have certainly made a positive impact for the Black Cats and now the challenge for them will be to try and find some consistency.
If they can do that, Sunderland should be in for a very good season.