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Fan Letters: “Are we focused enough on youth?” asks Sunderland fan Jay

A mixed bag of fan letters today, including youth policy, online streaming, and whether this season is like when we went up under Keano. What do you think? Email us:

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Just wondering what your opinion is on whether we are still doing enough to promote young players into the first team. Obviously, Dan Neil and Patterson are looking like they’re going to be great players for us.

But I watched Sam Greenwood (who we famously lost to Arsenal before we could tie him down to a contract) get an assist for Leeds against Watford this weekend, and I honestly couldn’t say whether he’d be getting games for us in league one such is our avoidance of giving young lads a run in the team, I think the fact that Benji Kimpioka has now left is evidence of this.

Could we be looking at the young lads more? It’s often talked about how great our academy is and how we should use our homegrown talent to boost the club. Then we go and buy 4/5 players in January, the young lads must get so disheartened. Never mind loaning in youngsters from other teams.

I know people will say ‘well if they’re not good enough they shouldn’t play’, but you only get good by playing, and I still don’t think we give players the time they need on the pitch to develop.

Jay [London Fan]

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for writing in Jay. Right now, Alex Neil is 100% focused on using the experienced players in the men’s squad to get us over the line and into the playoffs - he doesn’t seem like a fella who is going to gamble on selections when we don’t have an injury crisis. Our bench is really, really strong with prospects like Trai Hume and Callum Doyle waiting in the wings. Benji didn’t ever do enoiugh to secure a place in the first team squad and I think its probably best for him and his family that he’s returned to Sweden.

As for the lads in the Under 23s... If our first team strikers do get injured, maybe a youngster will get the chance. I had hoped that someone like Harrison Sonha or Tyrece Dyce might break through into the first team squad this term, as that’s what Kristjaan Speakman is supposed to do best. But that will probably have to wait for pre-season now, and it’s up to those kids to show the coaches that they don’t need to buy in talent - all the analytics will be fed into the machine, no doubt.

There’s always one or two who come into the picture as the summer progresses. But when other parts of the fanbase clamour for millions to be spent to either keep us in the Championship or finally get us out of this division, it is difficult to promote untested youth.

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Hi again. Great win on Saturday. Tense yes but got the job done eventually. I go to as many matches as I can and this season so far have managed 7 home and 9 away.

Home games are not easy for me as a now live in Stoke on Trent but the likes of Burton Crewe Shrewsbury are more manageable. If I can’t get to a Midweek game I usually stream it via SAFSEE.

If I can’t get to Saturday games, I used to love following the lads with the SAFC match day online experience, this no longer seems to be available. Would love to see it return to get a fix (Sunderland AFC ) that is.


Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for your letter, Alan. Loads of us exiles got very used to watching every minute of every game during covid and wanted to keep doing so, but unfortunately the 3pm Saturday embargo came back in and we suffer as a result.

I can see this embargo going in the coming years, but there’s a lot of resistance not least from non-league teams around the country who sometimes benefit from EFL fans who go to their games. People who log in from outside the UK can pay for the Saturday games on SAFSEE and, which is great if you happen to be abroad.

Completely unrelated to this matter, have your heard about these nifty things called Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) that can, for a small fee, disguise from where on earth your computer is connecting to the internet - making it appear to websites that you’re in Canada or Germany? Someone told me that they are great for blocking adverts and ensuring your data and identity are protected, and have a range of other benefits too.

Oxford United v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Just listening to the latest pod [great show btw] and I’m with Phil and Gav in that this feels very much like the Roy Keane season at SAFC when we were promoted from the 1st Division to the Premiership.

I know we won the league that year but the way we gathered momentum at the end of the season and then eventually got promoted thanks to many late celebrations is similar to now.

At the time I was 19 years old travelling up and down with the Seaham branch and spent a lot of money on tickets and busses and even more on alcohol as I watched the lads do the business.

I am an old romantic but I am getting similar vibes now! Keep the faith.

Craig Toward

Ed’s Note [Rich]: The lads on the pod had a good old chat about this. Personally, I think no two seasons are alike, but there are lessons that we can learn from them - players, manager, and fans alike. Winning at any costs seems to be the way that Neil has the Lads set-up, which is how all promotions are won through the playoffs.

On the pod, Chris said this season reminds him of last season, which is also something we can learn from too. That’s the kind of end to the campaign we don’t want to see happen again!

Soccer - Coca-Cola Football League Championship - Luton Town v Sunderland - Kenilworth Road Photo by Mike Egerton - PA Images via Getty Images

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