Sunderland kids ‘exceptional’ in win at Hartlepool Utd

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GUS POYET described Sunderland’s young guns as “exceptional” after they proved to be the heroes for the second time in 24 hours.

Sunderland secured a third successive pre-season victory last night with a 3-0 win at Hartlepool United, yet as at Carlisle on Tuesday, it was the members of the Under-21 squad who were to thank for the win.

An entire team of academy products were introduced from the bench just after the hour mark with devastating consequences, as Carl Lawson and Andrew Cartwright (twice) found the back of the Pools net three times in eight minutes.

Head coach Poyet said: “We were talking in the dressing room after the game – we should ask for permission to play the kids for the last half-an-hour of every game!

“It’s important the way that they came on and wanted to show everyone in the first team that they want to be a part of things.

“They have some quality and you can see from the understandings they have built up that they have been working together for a little while.”

Sunderland were also far brighter for the opening hour than they had been at Carlisle, with the visitors dominating possession, yet struggling to find the back of the Pools net - Steven Fletcher coming closest when he hit the post.

“We are still mixing the players but, first-team wise, yesterday was totally different to Tuesday - there was a bit more energy and understanding,” said Poyet.

“We created more chances, and all we were missing is goals and they will come.

“Overall, I was very pleased.

“The first-team players did well and the kids were exceptional.”

There was also a first appearance of pre-season for last season’s joint top scorer Adam Johnson after he missed last weekend’s friendly at Darlington 1883 with an ankle injury.

Poyet added: “Johnno was desperate to play and he linked up well with Fletch.

“I’m sure he’s going to have an even better season this year with us than he did last.”