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Parachute cuts mooted - a good year to go down? Pickford benched; Youngsters impressing on loan

In this morning's talking points; looking for positives anywhere we can, we ponder mooted slashing of Premier League parachute payments and consider whether this season is as good as any to get relegated; Jordan Pickford was spared any injury risk with a spot on the England Under-21s bench last night and two other Sunderland youngsters are impressing out on loan.

A good year to get relegated?

Seven points adrift of safety and with a minimum of five or six victories required in the final ten games of the season, odds on Sunderland to survive the drop are currently very, very long.

Sunderland v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Most bookmakers will offer you around 1/20 at the moment if you fancy a flutter on David Moyes masterminding a miracle.

But as Newcastle fans did last summer, perhaps us Mackems need to start looking for the positives of dropping to the Championship from anywhere we can find them.

So, the news that Premier League clubs are keen to slash parachute payments to relegated clubs in years to come might just be one snippet we could cling to.

Reports surfaced in The Times over the weekend that the "Big Six" in particular are keen to review the lucrative compensation packets afforded to those sides who drop into the Championship.

The argument appears to be based on fears that certain unscrupulous club owners have pocketed the cash rather than use it to stabilise and rebuild their businesses following the shock of relegation.

Parachute payments were first introduced over a decade ago to enable relegated clubs some grace in restructuring in the second-tier, especially those faced with Premier League-sized wage bills and other associated big-money big-league costs.

Presently the money awarded to those who drop is higher than it has ever been. This season a club like Newcastle or Villa will be entitled to a maximum pay-out package of around £60m in installments, but with the massive new TV deal now in place, that figure will likely be nearer £85m should Sunderland succumb to relegation - with the cash spread over a three year period.

Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Matthew Ashton/Getty Images

The proposals to slash the figures aren't on a formal agenda just yet but newspaper talk may well be the first stage in the big boys putting the feelers out to gauge reaction.

A good year to get relegated? Hell no. But it could be worse in the future.

Pickford benched

Jordan Pickford was on the bench for the England Under-21s last night and for a Sunderland side having to take positives anywhere they can, that means he avoided any injury and should be available for the crucial trip to Watford at the weekend.

Manchester City's Angus Gunn was preferred for the game with Denmark. The 21-year-old is the son of former Norwich goalkeeper Bryan and is currently third choice 'keeper at the Etihad.

England v France - Toulon Tournament Final
Angus Gunn with Jordan Pickford at last year's Toulon Tournament
Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images

Pickford featured in Friday's Under-21 game against Germany and made a few good saves but was caught wrong-footed for the only goal of the game.

The Washington-born goalkeeper has been speaking of his pride in playing for the club he is a life-long supporter of. In an interview with EA Sports, the Sunderland stopper spoke of his continued joy in playing for his boyhood team:

It's massive for me. Obviously being a young lad I've always been a fan going to games week in, week out, watching the side play. Now getting to be out on the pitch is an experience I've always wanted, so it's amazing for me.

Sunderland v Watford - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Tommy Robson continuing good form in Ireland

Sunderland left-back Tommy Robson is continuing his decent form on loan at Limerick. The 23-year-old was instrumental in the only goal of the game as his League of Ireland side beat Bray Wanderers 1-0 at the weekend.

Robson chipped the ball forward from his full-back berth for Limerick to sweep forward in the fourth minute of Saturday's game which resulted in the only goal of the afternoon, enough for his side to clinch the win.

The Sunderland-born defender will have some discussion to come on his future before the end of the English season. Robson is one of a number of academy graduates out of contract this summer. The League of Ireland campaign runs through the warmer months and concludes at the end of October.

Michael Ledger set for first test proper in Norway

19-year-old Sunderland centre-back Michael Ledger faces his first true test since arriving in Norway next week when the Eliteserien season kicks off.

Viking FK Photocall - Elite Serien Norway 2017
Michael Ledger's mugshot for Viking Stavanger promotional material
Photo by Trond Tandberg/Getty Images

Ledger is on loan at Viking Stavanger who play their opening league fixture against Oslo outfit Vålerenga on Monday evening.

Vålerenga play their games at the 28,000-capacity Ullevaal Stadion in the Norwegian capital. The stadium is also used by the country's national football team and is the largest in the Scandinavian nation.

Valerenga Fotball v Molde FK - Norwegian Tippeligaen
The Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo, playing host to a domestic Norwegian fixture
Photo by Audun Braastad/EuroFootball/Getty Images

Ledger signed a new deal with Sunderland recently and has stated he is hopeful of extending his loan spell at Stavanger beyond the end of the English football season. The Norwegian campaign runs through spring into summer and concludes in November.

The Sunderland man was in action for Viking's final warm-up match on Saturday. His side were beaten by two-goals-to-nil by Swedish outfit Djurgårdens in front of roughly a thousand spectators.