George Honeyman has spoken of his pride at the part Sunderland’s academy graduates played in the crucial 1-0 win over Hull City last weekend.
Sunderland’s starting XI for the game featured six players aged 23 or under, with four of those having come through the system.
Honeyman says it is a vindication of the club’s investment in the academy.
He said: “I remember those cold Monday nights at Eppleton, It’s all character-building.
“It makes you proud when there are a lot of young lads from the academy on the pitch at first-team level, and you win games like on Saturday.
“I am really pleased for the club and the academy, that it’s finally paying off.
“It’s a major investment and it’s a major part of the club.”
Manager Chris Coleman said shortly after his arrival that bringing through academy players was of a bigger benefit to buying players in, and Honeyman agrees that it is a massive opportunity for the club.
He said: “I agree.
“The club can see it as a business opportunity as well – look at Southampton and how many players they have brought through and sold on for incredible amounts of money.
“I’m a big fan of our academy, we have got loads of talent in it and there has been lots of talent come through it.
“I know the academy got a lot of stick for a while when there wasn’t any players in the first team, so there will be a lot of people at this club pleased to see us all on the pitch together.
“If that’s the way that club is going to go, I think we will be fine.”