Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is keeping faith in the kids as he battles for their English Premier League survival.Bruce’s men have plummeted down the table after losing eight of their last nine and selling star forward Darren Bent to Aston Villa in January, and face a relegation dog fight when they take on Wigan on Saturday.
And with an injury-ravaged squad, Bruce has had to turn to the club’s youth system to plug the gaps as they embark on a nervous season finale.
“It’s been levelled at me that I have picked too many youngsters, but youth is the best way forward,” the former Manchester United defender said.
“I won’t change my philosophy of bringing in young players; it’s the right way forward for the club. There’ll be times when they have ups and downs.”
“But I’m relying on some of the young ones now to pull us through. I hope we can get through this, then get our big players back to give them a bit more experience.”
“The club will be better in the long-term for having these young kids play their part. It can only be a good thing to have Jack Colback at 21, Jordan Henderson at 20, Lee Cattermole at 23 and Ahmed Elmohamady at 23 playing first-team football.”
“I thought Colback did great last weekend. He’s another young player who grasped his chance and did particularly well. He will be better for it.”
They might not have got the desired result but the performance in last weekend’s 2-0 reverse at Birmingham City was the source of great optimism for Bruce.
He added: “I was really pleased with the way we played at Birmingham.”
“The lads were young and fresh and athletic and that’s why we were better, rather than having people who were carrying injuries and struggling.”
“It was the best we’ve played in a couple of months, we didn’t quite get the result but that’s all I can ask for.”
“If they play like that again then hopefully we can turn it round and get the result we want.”
Midfielder Kieran Richardson (calf) and forward Danny Welbeck (hamstring) are doubts.
Goalkeeper Craig Gordon is out for the season and defenders Titus Bramble (knee) and John Mensah (calf) plus forward Fraizer Campbell are also injured.