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Roundup: Tommy Miller on Moyes’ Lost Youth & Hartlepool Preview Sums Up Trophy

In today's Roundup, former Sunderland midfielder Tommy Miller has been previewing tonight's Hartlepool match with a word or two about David Moyes' new perceived status as champion of youth development. And, Robbie Stockdale sums the Checkatrade Trophy up perfectly for 'Pools Fans.

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It’s Checkatrade Trophy night, and a trip to Hartlepool for Sunderland's second game in the competition. The Sunderland Echo have been to Spennymoor Town to speak with Tommy Miller who played for both clubs and is now assistant manager at the County Durham Northern Premier League club.

Other luminaries who have played for Sunderland and Hartlepool, such as John MacPhail, Don Hutchison and, er, Ryan Noble must have been unavailable.

Tommy Miller is fondly remembered on Wearside for his part in the anonymous midfield of the 15-point season of 2005-6. Miller’s contribution to that cause was largely forgettable, but with anything possible in football, 37-year old Tommy’s Wikipedia page tells us "Miller is eligible for the national teams of England and Scotland, but he has yet to be capped by either nation". Someone give Sam Allardyce Gareth Southgate a nudge eh.

Allardyce was in charge the last time Sunderland travelled to Hartlepool for a pre-season friendly towards the end of July. Two days later he was unveiled as England boss and, of course, lasted all of two months in surely the most pointless and embarrassing chapter in the national team's history.

Tommy Miller's dad, also called Tommy, is head of scouting at ‘Pools and has enjoyed a long association with Hartlepool United. Speaking to the EchoTommy-junior passed comment on Sunderland's renewed policy on utilising youth:
David Moyes is a manager who is not afraid to play young talent. Look at his time in particular at Everton, if he sees something in a player he’ll be brave and pick them.
Certainly there is some evidence of Moyes belief in Sunderland’s youth since he arrived here. The blooding of Lynden Gooch and Jordan Pickford may lay testament to that. But, much of it is surely down to the threadbare squad he inherited, and the injuries to it, since he took charge.

It’s not that long since observers poured scorn on David Moyes attitude to young players. Kevin Sheedy was one notable critic, having worked as an academy coach under the 52-year old Scot during his days at Goodison Park. Sheedy claimed Moyes was "never interested in [Everton’s] youth team"; and whilst the current Sunderland boss was barely at Manchester United long enough to make many bold moves, there were literally no young players who broke into the first team at Old Trafford during his tenure, barring the brief flash that was Adnan Januzaj.

The Youth Travel To Hartlepool

And so it is that Robbie Stockdale again takes charge of the under-23’s as they make the short trip down the A19 to Hartlepool tonight. Neither club will be too fussed about the fixture, but the benefits to Sunderland probably outweigh any advantage to a ‘Pools side battling in League Two.

Craig Hignett’s side lie thirteenth in the table and face Crawley Town at the Victoria Ground this Saturday. No apologies are offered for not referring to Hartlepool’s ground by its current name – "The Northern Gas and Power Stadium".

Whilst the initial hostility to the revamped trophy appears to have wavered, as opponents have found other things to moan about, there will still be a fair few Hartlepool fans not willing to pay good money to watch a Sunderland youth team tonight. That said, a crowd of over a thousand is more than likely, swelled by a few Wearside folk.

But, one of the best arguments against the reconfigured competition from a lower league perspective, was discussed on the Hartlepool forum, The Poolie Bunker, earlier with reference to pre-match comments from Robbie Stockdale.

Speaking on the club’s official website, Stockdale spoke at length about the competition providing a physical test for Sunderland’s young players:

They are a good team and a very strong side….The players are strong and physical…. so we are expecting a tough game and a really good challenge for our younger players and this is what the tournament is all about… when you haven’t got the ball you have got to be physical otherwise they will overpower us.
As one wise Hartlepool fan pointed out:

So essentially Sunderland are wanting to toughen up some inexperienced kids against a bunch of League Two thugs. And this is progressing the game in this country, and going to make the national team better?
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.