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Stoke City U23 v Sunderland U23: Premier League 2 Play-Off

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Fan Letters: All we are saying is give youth a chance!

The lack of players coming through from the academy to the first team has been a continual source of frustration over recent years.

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

The comments about the under 23s being put in is spot on. If by 22 or 23 you haven’t played a first team game, especially when the first team is poor and players being played out of position are in front of you, then the manager mustn’t think you good enough.

We all can’t be Maradonas, but at 22 we must be showing something. This also shows that our club policy has systematically given away our best youngsters in the last few years. I also think our development coaches have to be held accountable.

Since football began, the north east has always been a hotbed of young footballers – just look at present England squad.

Scouts and club officials get off your backsides and find these skilled local youngsters and give them a chance.

I am at present unmotivated by the players we’re looking at presently, and that we cannot bid £2m for one player.

Sorry my prediction early in the last season that we weren’t good enough to get promoted was proved right.

Colin Husband

Ipswich Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One
Embleton will surely be given a leading role next season
Photo by Richard Calver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

It’s about Time SAFC, kicked the belief of not playing the young’uns in to touch.

Just look at the England squad what is it 3,4,5 under 23 even under 20.

Well if it’s good enough for England it’s good enough for SAFC. you never know we could unveil a couple of rough diamonds. You know like the two Jordan’s.

Role on the new season.


Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for your letters, Paul and Colin. As a club, we’ve been really poor at developing our young players over recent years. We’ve always been solely thinking about the next game, rather than the medium to long term, and we’ve suffered the consequences with a raft of players leaving the academy at the first opportunity and without a second thought. Hopefully, with the new ‘pathways’ in place to develop players into first-team squad members, that’s a thing of the past, and we have our local scouting networks identifying the best talent out there.

Good youngsters will only come, however, if there’s a genuine opportunity to develop.

Getting experience of ‘men’s’ football is hugely important to the development of any player – whether that’s here or on loan elsewhere. If it’s here, however, there’s got to be an acceptance that the player is learning, isn’t the finished article, and is going to make mistakes. There needs to be more patience than is shown to some other players. As an example, I’ve been stunned by some of the criticism Hume has had thrown at him. Yes, he’s got his weaknesses, but his potential – to me at least – is huge. He can develop and get better at those areas of the game he needs to (and he already has made significant strides), but he’s a hugely promising player, who’s only going to get better. Hopefully it’s with Sunderland. If it’s not, I’ll be really surprised if he’s not snapped up by a championship club.

As an aside, while the transfer activity has been slow so far, I don’t actually think we need as many new players as others do. I expect the likes of Neil, Hawkes, Embleton, Patterson, Younger, Kimpioka etc to be promoted into the first team squad – and we have Arby to come back, too. We certainly don’t need to replace all of the players who’ve departed.


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