RYAN Noble is set to play a leading role against Hartlepool United tonight according to Martin O’Neill.
The Black Cats boss was impressed with the 19-year-old’s efforts on the recent trip to South Korea – in particular the match-turning display he produced as a substitute against Groningen.
And the teenager can expect the reward of a place in Sunderland’s starting line-up for tonight’s friendly – the first against English opposition of the pre-season at Victoria Park (kick-off 7.30pm).
O’Neill told SportMail: “Ryan had a really good tour and I’m seriously thinking about starting him in the Hartlepool game.
“I think the 20-minute cameo he produced against Groningen is worthy of him getting the nod.
“He didn’t have much in the way of playing time when we were out in South Korea but what impressed me was that when he did come on against Groningen he was really up for it and totally changed the complexion of the game.
“He held the ball up well when he needed to, which is a part of his game he’s trying to develop.
“And right there at the end he was there to score a superb goal to win the game for us.”
SEE Friday’s Mail for full story