Sunderland’s team is getting younger by the week. This season the impact of youth and academy players has become vital for the Black Cats. Some have been good, some not so much. Here I will be looking at who has been a hit, and who has been a miss from Sunderland’s youngsters.
In this Championship season George Honeyman has well and truly cemented his place in Sunderland’s starting XI. Of Sunderland’s 34 league games Honeyman has started 28 getting himself three goals along the way. Having been at the club since the age of 10, Honeyman has gone through all the ranks at Sunderland. The 23 year old made his debut for the first team in the 2014-15 season during an FA cup tie against Bradford City and earned himself a Premier League appearance against Stoke City. After a loan spell at Gateshead, Honeyman made his full Premier League debut for Sunderland against Watford in May 2016 and would go on to earn himself 10 appearances under David Moyes in 2016-17. The Championship season however is where Honeyman has come into his own and prove his value to the Sunderland midfield. The impressive work ethic of the attacking midfielder is what Sunderland fans want to see in a home grown player and you can’t deny Honeyman gives his all every week. His performances this season has seen his become one of the first names on Chris Coleman’s team sheet.
Local boy Ethan Robson is another long serving academy player, having been at the club since the age of eight. Since the arrival of Chris Coleman, Robson has found himself in the starting XI a number of times but so far has failed to impress enough to keep himself there. A former captain of the under 23’s there is a lot of potential in Robson, who is just 21 years old. However it may not be Sunderland where this potential is fulfilled. With his contract expiring in the summer there is reportedly interest from both Celtic and Rangers in the Houghton-Le-Spring lad but the Black cats are reportedly keen to keep the youngster. In his first few league performances this season Robson initially stood out. Impressing in what was Sunderland’s last win against Hull in January. Unfortunately since then Robson failed to impress in games against Ipswich and Brentford. While Robson could one day break into the Sunderland first team permanently, but he still has a long way to go.
American Lynden Gooch was handed his first Sunderland start in the Premier League by David Moyes last season and impressed with his performances in the top league. However this season Gooch has been plagued by injuries. Making eight starting appearances this season Gooch looked good. He even got his first senior goal for the club in the Carabao cup against Carlisle in August. Had he been able stay injury free and have a good run in the team I’m confident he would been able to stay in the starting XI. Coleman himself admitted to being impressed with the California born midfielder after joining the club but because of his lack of appearances this season he hasn’t made the impact he could have.
After the departure of James Vaughn and Lewis Grabban in January, Asoro found himself as one of the only senior strikers at the club, along with Josh Maja. After signing for the club in 2015 Asoro was surrounded by a lot of hype and made his debut coming on as a substitute against Middlesbrough in 2016. Since then, in the championship season Chris Coleman has thrown Asoro into the starting XI because of his lack of options. Getting himself two goals and two assists in the process Asoro could play a big part in keeping Sunderland in the championship in the remainder of this season.
What better way to start your Sunderland career than coming off the bench to get your side their first home in 364 days? That’s exactly what Maja did in his first appearance for Sunderland against Fulham back in December. After an impressive pre season, scoring four goals a lot of people suggested Maja be given a chance, and now that he’s getting it I believe he can and will deliver more goals. A partnership with Asoro is Sunderland’s best chance of survival right now and the height advantage Maja has can be used successfully. With more playing time he should grow into his game even more and become a big asset for Sunderland.