Sunderland manager Lee Johnson has admitted that the club’s fringe players who featured in yesterday’s EFL Trophy clash with Bradford City will need to step up to the mark if they are to feature in League One for their side in the future.
The likes of Harrison Sohna, Kenton Richardson, Ollie Younger and Frederik Alves were all handed the opportunity to showcase their talent at senior level on Tuesday as the Black Cats hosted the Bantams at the Stadium of Light.
Whilst Sunderland would have been aiming to get back to winning ways in this fixture following their recent defeats to Rotherham United, Sheffield Wednesday and Mansfield Town, they ultimately failed to deliver the goods in-front of their supporters.
Nathan Broadhead’s strike in the second-half of this fixture cancelled out Theo Robinson’s effort as the game was decided by a penalty shoot-out.
Lynden Gooch and Alex Pritchard missed spot-kicks for Sunderland as Bradford secured victory.
Whilst the Black Cats still managed to top their EFL Trophy group despite this defeat, Johnson has admitted that he wants to see more from the club’s fringe players.
Speaking to The Northern Echo, the Sunderland boss said: “There’s still a bit more to do, if we’re adhering ourselves to the standards that we’ve set.
“It’s not a given that these players will get their chance, they’ve got to earn their chance and they earn their chance in every opportunity.
Quiz: Have each of these 24 ex-Sunderland academy players ever played in the Premier League?
“Whether that’s training, to set the tone, whether that’s games like tonight [yesterday against Bradford] or whether they come on in a match-day in the league or in the FA Cup.”
It is hardly a surprise that Johnson has admitted that he wants his players to step up to the mark as Sunderland’s performances as a team in recent weeks have left a lot to be desired.
Although it would be unfair to judge the Black Cats based on their EFL Trophy defeat to Bradford due to the fact that Johnson made a number of changes to his side for this fixture, they were extremely poor during their clashes with Rotherham and Wednesday.
Set to face Ipswich Town on November 20th, Sunderland will need to be at their very best in this particular fixture as Paul Cook’s side have won four of their last six games in the third-tier.
By securing all three points in their meeting with the Tractor Boys, the Black Cats could potentially use the confidence gained from this result to push on in League One over the Christmas period.