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4 Sunderland 1st-teamers start tonight in EFL Trophy v Grimsby - Including one important player

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With the international break upon us and with a squad of players that need to get some minutes under their belts, tonight there is an opportunity for some of them to play some competitive football as we take on Grimsby Town in the EFL Trophy.

SAFC.com

Four first team squad members will be given a run out this evening as Elliott Dickman’s U21s side take on Grimsby Town in our final EFL Trophy game of the season.

Jack Rodwell, Donald Love, Callum McManaman and Brendan Galloway will all make up part of the side that will take on League Two side Grimsby in the game which kicks off at 7.45pm tonight at Blundell Park.

None of the four men have played much first team football in recent months and it is an opportunity for them to get some much-needed minutes under their belts, with the senior squad taking a break from action during the international break.

Sunderland Unveil Callum McManaman Photo by Scott Heppell/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

The game this evening is the definition of a ‘dead rubber’, with neither side able to qualify having missed out on progression due to poor results earlier in the competition.

So, with that in mind, it’s perhaps a decent opportunity for some of the less often used members of the Sunderland squad to build up their match fitness against some half-decent opposition.

Sunderland coach Dickman, who will be overseeing tonight’s game, just wants his players to go out and enjoy their football:

I have been with Robbie (Stockdale) for the two games we have played, and we were quite pleased with the performance at Scunthorpe.

I thought it was a good game, we played some good stuff but unfortunately the result just wasn’t what we wanted.

The Doncaster game was a little disappointing because it was a tight game and we lost 1-0. Hopefully the lads see this as an opportunity to get a result and build on the Scunthorpe performance.

It is always difficult to predict what Grimsby will do because they are a first team and they have senior players. They will be a lot more experienced then what we are.

It is going to be tough game no matter who lines up for them. Neither of us can qualify out of the group so they might use the game for something different.

It is important we focus on ourselves and enjoy the experience of playing against a first team and being in that environment. We are going to have some experienced players involved and hopefully those lads will help the younger ones out.

The message is to focus on ourselves and make sure we go down there and play football the way we have done in recent games.

The game, if you can’t make it along, is live on SAFC.com via audio commentary from BBC Newcastle’s Nick Barnes and former Sunderland striker Michael Proctor.