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Carlisle - 5 Things We Learned From Our Trip To Cumbria

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Pre-season games are largely used to help hone the fitness of the players with the season ahead in mind, but what other aspects of how the game panned out can we pick apart and analyse?

Me. I took it.

1. Cabral is still a waste of time.

Those of you that had read my piece following the Darlington game might have noted that I wasn't impressed with Cabral's display against our non-league opposition.

He was wasteful in possession and in the forty-five minutes he was on the pitch he couldn't have looked less interested if he had tried. It was more of the same from him last night, and I severely doubt Gus Poyet will be pulling up trees to make him an integral part of his side for the coming season having seen two lacklustre displays against two sides he really should be capable of shining against.

Cabral - who has two years left on his current deal - was given the job to play in the 'Cattermole role' as the pivot in the midfield, and it was embarrassing to watch. He strolled around without breaking into a sweat and he seemed to misplace just about every pass he attempted to play. When Carlisle looked to break away on the counter he was nowhere to be seen and against a more clinical attack we may have shipped a number of goals due to his lack of effort.

I don't think Lee Cattermole and Liam Bridcutt have anything to worry about when it comes to competition for their place in the side. The sooner we get rid of this joker the better.

2. Mavrias has a lot of quality - and deserves a chance to prove himself.

When we signed 'Harry' Mavrias last season I have got to admit that I was really looking forward to seeing what he was capable of. He came to the club with a reputation as a future star in his homeland and having achieved full international call ups at just eighteen years of age it's easy to see why he's so highly rated.

Although I understand the merit in giving young foreign players time to adapt to their new surroundings I have to admit I was slightly disappointed that we didn't see more of Mavrias last season. Paolo Di Canio initially gave him a number of opportunities but once he had departed the club Mavrias was eased back into the developmental set up under Kevin Ball and, by all accounts, has really impressed the staff with his eagerness and his will to improve. Fair play.

Now he's been here for a year I feel it's time we see him integrated into the side more regularly. He's been asked to play out of position in both the Darlington and Carlisle games because of our lack of full backs and I'd be lying if I said he hadn't impressed me. He has something - perhaps something I can't necessarily put my finger on - which really excites when he is on the ball. Hopefully more is to come from the youngster.

3. We may have a star in George Honeyman.

Look, I don't mean to over-hype any of our young players - Ryan Noble is the prime example of someone that has suffered because of being heralded as the next big thing to come out of our much maligned academy - but I can't help but feel we've really got something special in George Honeyman.

I try to get along and watch the U21s as much as I can and I don't think I've seen him have a bad game. He's versatile, agile, has a good centre of gravity and above all else he has quality, both on and off the ball. He's not the tallest - I believe 'knee-high to a grasshopper' is the correct term - but there is just something about the lad that has always impressed me.

He was asked to step in at last minute against Darlington when Adam Johnson was deemed unfit to play a part in the game due to an ankle issue and the way he just seamlessly slotted into the side alongside the senior players was impressive. His pass to Max Clayton for Steven Fletcher's first goal was exquisite.

Last night when Honeyman was introduced on the hour mark alongside nine other players his impact was immediate. Receiving a pass to feet around fifty yards out from goal he turned, did a 360 degree turn on the ball - taking two Carlisle players out of the game in the process - and played a pass with the outside of his boot that landed at the feet of Mika Mandron in behind their defence. Mandron was pulled back and wasn't allowed the chance to score but it didn't take the shine off the passage of play that created the opening. The whole of the Sunderland end were on their feet in applause at what they had just seen.

It's expected that Honeyman will again play some part this evening against Hartlepool, presumably in the last thirty minutes of the tie again. I can't wait.

4. The kids are alright.

I thought George Honeyman was worth a section on his own but I could argue the case for any of the young lads that were introduced at some point in the game as they all impressed me in their own way. It was clear from the off that they had been chomping at the bit for an opportunity to play in the senior side in front of Gus Poyet and the quality and energy was there for all to see.

The thirty minutes or so that we fielded an entire starting eleven of under-21's players was the best period in the game. The passing was slick, inventive and for most of that time they were playing one or two touch football around our tired opposition players. There was a clear understanding between the players - I'd hazard that most of them have played together for many years, from a young age - and they massively revitalised what had been a dull and boring match between two poor sides in the first hour of the game.

I have to give special mentions to Mika Mandron and Lynden Gooch too. Both players had a huge impact on the game and Mandron in particular was great, playing a lovely one-two with Honeyman before finishing well for his goal.

Rightly or wrongly the Academy of Light and the staff that run the show down there get a lot of stick for not producing good players on a consistent basis but last night showed me that there is talent there. Some of these lads will get another chance to secure their spot on the plane to Portugal again tonight against Hartlepool and it'll be interesting to see who Gus takes along for the ride.

5. Alfred N'Diaye still has lots to offer.

There are detractors of Alfred N'Diaye who don't think he's anywhere near as good as many people will have you think but I still hold out hope that he'll be given a shot by Gus Poyet to show him he's capable of becoming a useful asset to his team over the coming season.

Poyet has played N'Diaye in a much more advanced role in our two pre-season ties to date and I think he's done very well. He worked hard on and off the ball and the comments from his agent late last week suggests to me that Alfie is eager to impress Poyet before a decision is made on his future. You've got to admire that.

Had we been more successful thus far in the transfer market I suspect N'Diaye might have been one of the first out of the door, and he isn't short of suitors. I'll be sad to see him go if he does leave but there is something very likeable about him and that goes a long way with Sunderland fans.