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Under 21's Season Opener Live On TV Tonight

Robbie Stockdale's men, who are looking to build upon an impressive campaign last season, welcome Liverpool this evening to the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground.

Robert Cianflone

The game, a 7pm kick off, is live on LFC TV - Sky Channel 429 and on Virgin Media Channel 544 - and entry is free for season card holders.

The U21's squad were an integral part of Gus Poyet's pre-season plans and were given plenty of time to impress the manager first hand - the wins away at both Carlisle United and Hartlepool United can be attributed to the impact of our youngsters - and the likes of left back Tom Robson, central midfielders Liam Agnew and Martin Smith, and winger Duncan Watmore have forced themselves into the thinking of the head coach, who along with director of football Lee Congerton has plans to give more opportunities to our best young talent over the course of the coming season.

Stockdale, who took over from club legend Kevin Ball as head coach of our development side this summer, is optimistic ahead of the season opener. He told

"We are all looking forward to it. Pre-season seems to have taken forever if I’m being honest, there were some fantastic experiences but it will be nice to get into our fixture programme. A problem with the U21 league is that you can’t always prepare for the games because you don’t know what team you will face, but we know we are up against a very good team and whoever is selected will provide a very good test for us.Hopefully we will play our football and impose ourselves on the game, because we are looking to start the season strongly."

He added:

"What we are looking for now is to focus on the positives from pre-season and work out the negatives. We set aims in terms of player development but as a team we recognise that our line up may change from game to game, so what we will be looking to do is maintain the same footballing philosophy regardless of who plays. We also have to develop players for the first team, and ensure that if they are fortunate enough to be called up - or go out on loan – they are in the right state of mind to perform. But first and foremost it is about performance and getting the players to play well."

The players will be performing in front of a host of scouts from Football League clubs and it's an opportunity for the majority of them to earn themselves short term loan contracts at clubs that can offer them first team football, an experience invaluable to any young player looking to force themselves into the first team picture at our club.

The likes of Mikael Mandron, George Honeyman, Lynden Gooch and Scott Harrison - all of whom gave good accounts of themselves in pre-season - are set to feature this evening against what should come in the form of difficult opposition from the Scousers.

LFC TV is currently free to all fans who have the basic Sky package and is available to fans who have the XL Package on Virgin, with coverage starting at 6.30pm.

Sunderland U21's squad: Burke, Stryjek, Beadling, Cartwright, Colquhoun, Ellison, Ferguson, Harrison, Ledger, McNamee, Oliver, Sukar, Blinco, Honeyman, McEvoy, E Robson, T Robson, Gooch, Greenwood, Lawson, McCarthy, Stinson, Agnew, Watmore, Graham, Smith, Mandron, Dixon, Pickford.

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