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SAFC NewsWipe: Youngsters Hailed Ahead of Cup Tie; One is 'Awesome', The Other For Sale?

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In this morning's whip round: With the FA Cup third round looming on Saturday, and a squad ravaged by injuries and the African Cup of Nations, we ponder the prospects of two starlets who might be in with a shout of a first team outing on Saturday.

Sunderland U23 v PSV Eindhoven U23: Premier League International Cup Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Seb Larsson - ‘Joel Asoro is Awesome'

Sebastian Larsson has hailed his fellow Swede and Sunderland youngster, Joel Asoro, as 'awesome' and welcomed his breakthrough into the fringes of the first team at the Stadium of Light. Might the lightning fast striker get some game time this weekend in the FA Cup?

Asoro, at 17, was on the bench for three games in December, including the Boxing Day trip to Old Trafford, and has featured on a couple of occasions in the EFL Trophy and the League Cup as well as making six appearances for Sunderland's Under-23 side - scoring twice.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - EFL Cup Third Round Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The youngster has been in Sunderland for over a year now having risen through academies in his native Sweden and is said to have attracted interest from scouts representing a variety of Europe's top clubs.

On his countryman - who made his Premier League debut against Middlesbrough in August - Sebastian Larsson told Swedish media:

He had an incredible pre-season and did so well. Clearly he is awesome.

We had a new coach and not a big squad so he travelled to France with us and took a chance. He took it well and Moyes became aware of him.

Asoro also made his bow for his country's Under-21 side last year, scoring in a 3-0 victory against Estonia.

David Moyes might ponder giving current man-of-the-moment Jermain Defoe a rest on Saturday as Burnley visit for the third round of the FA Cup. Either that or the game looks ready made for Fabio Borini to remind us he can operate as a central front man. But beyond that, the Sunderland boss may hand Joel Asoro some time to show the watching world just what he can do.

Rodwell Hoping Honeyman Gets A Chance Alongside Him On Saturday

Fresh from his encouraging performance against Liverpool, Jack Rodwell has been discussing Sunderland's prospect of surviving the perpetual threat of relegation and looking forward to a break from the pressure of the league as the FA Cup third round kicks off on Saturday.

The 25-year-old was pitted against Adam Lallana and former Newcastle 'favourite' Georginio Wijnaldum, in a midfield battle for territory on Monday, and he put in a good account of himself in a first appearance for two months; Rodwell believes Sunderland will survive their fifth straight desperate relegation fight:

You look at it now and to be honest - we've been in worse positions.

There are still a lot of games to go, there is still only three or four points between us and fifteenth or whatever.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League
Jack Rodwell battles Adam Lallana
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Indeed Jack Rodwell and his partner Didier Ndong exposed Liverpool's midfield in the absence of former Sunderland hero, Jordan Henderson, but the contrasting story between the two men could not be starker.

Because Henderson was a big money signing from Sunderland and has gone on to global acclaim and to captain his country from a midfield berth, while Rodwell was a big money signing to Sunderland and has gone on to find global infamy for his record of not featuring in a winning side for over three years, and pose the perpetual question of where the England debut-making 20-year-old has since gone wrong.

With an eight week lay-off behind him, Jack Rodwell is expecting to feature heavily for Sunderland in the coming weeks as David Moyes battles a never-ending cycle of alternating his central midfield line-up. With Didier Ndong now gone in Gabon and Jason Denayer apparently sidelined with no apparent indication of a return date, the former Everton and Manchester City man will be pushed to the fore in upcoming games.

But he expects to see some fresh faces alongside him at the Stadium of Light on Saturday for the visit of Burnley, as he told various media outlets:

The young players will be needed - I am sure. Why not play the young lads?

Players like George Honeyman have been champing at the bit to get on because he has been in and around the squad for a while now. They will have to chip in and we have the cup next week so they will be needed.

Honeyman has a great shout to get a first start under David Moyes this weekend, having been an unused substitute on six occasions so far this season in the Premier League.

Hopefully he gets a chance to impress the Sunderland boss, because as NewsWipe has speculated a couple of times, there is a strong chance that the 22-year-old might be on his way in the January window - don't be surprised if he heads off permanently to a Championship side in the coming weeks.