John Hewitson has given the latest update on how our Under-21 squad have been progressing as we pass the halfway point in the season.
The Assistant U21 Coach has discussed what the ultimate aims are as many young scholars and early professionals look to take the Sunderland pathway.
“There have been improvements, certainly. That’s what our goal is – not just as coaching staff but as a multi-disciplinary team – to give them the best programme and the best resource possible,” Hewitson explained.
“Whether that’s training with the first team, playing with us in the U21s or getting some experience out on loan – maybe for some of the fringe first-team players as well, playing games for us – it’s important to give them the right level of experience.
“We have a situation where we have some really talented younger boys, not just in the U18s but the U16s as well, who have stepped up and had game time in our U21 team. We need to get them the appropriate, differentiated level to help them extend their progression.”
Hewitson talked over some of the short-term options for the Academy players, ranging from the ages of 15 to 21, alongside some of the first-team squad seeking minutes on the pitch.
“Our first goal is to try and develop players to get into our first team, which is what we need to do. Then, as a by-product, we add that competitive element to make sure we finish as highly in the league as possible.
“For some of the boys, progression would be in the form of going out on loan, because playing games in a men’s environment more suits their development. Some of the boys may go on loan this month; in the same breath, that would reduce some experience in our U21 squad.
“The main goal has been demonstrated recently, with Chris Rigg getting on the pitch for the first team, with Ben Middlemas, Tommy Watson and Mason Cotcher on the bench.”