Gus Poyet praise for young Sunderland prospects ahead of Carlisle and Hartlepool United friendles

EL OF A PLAYER: El-Hadji Ba in action at  Darlington
EL OF A PLAYER: El-Hadji Ba in action at Darlington

GUS Poyet has lavished praise on young players who are trying to make an impression on him.

Sunderland’s opening pre-season friendly, the 5-1 win over Darlington 1883 on Saturday, saw a host of youngsters used – Duncan Watmore, El-Hadji Ba, George Honeyman, David Ferguson, Charis Mavrias and David Moberg Karlsson.

“I’m glad you’ve asked me about the young players,” Poyet said.

“They deserve to be recognised for the hard work they’ve put in since the return to training.”

At Heritage Park, he asked wingers Watmore and Mavrias to play as full-backs. And he said: “They took up those positions without complaint or problems and they applied themselves from the start.

“That’s the sort of attitude I’m talking about – a willingness to do whatever is asked of them and just to get on with it, looking to be positive all the time.

“I would like to thank them for playing right-back – a position we don’t currently have covered.

“The boys were fantastic. They willingly did a job for us and that was good for the team as well.

“It was great experience for them as well too though but I’m grateful to them because it was not easy to create a couple of back fours.

“And of course it is an opportunity for them and for other young players.”

The likes of Watmore, Ba and Mavrias, with a first season under their belts at the Stadium of Light, could be facing big campaigns ahead in 2014-15.

And other prospects will also have a chance to catch the eye in the next few weeks as Poyet remodels his squad.

“Against Darlington, we didn’t use Nacho Scocco, Adam Johnson or Liam Bridcutt so we needed to involve a few of the young players.

“We have games coming up this week against Carlisle and Hartlepool and these players need to show their worth, to show that they are good enough to be part of the final squad – which probably won’t be finalised until the end of the window.”