Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray has shown a willingness to utilise the young talent available to him at the Stadium of Light this season.
The former Blackburn Rovers head coach named academy teenager Zac Johnson on the bench for the 2-1 win over Birmingham away from home in the Championship last Friday and has handed minutes to the likes of Edouard Michut and Jewison Bennette.
He has also continued to select Anthony Patterson and Daniel Neil, who are both products of the Academy of Light, as regulars in the second division this term.
Mowbray is showing that there is a pathway for the academy players to make the breakthrough into the first-team in the coming weeks, months, and years and this should inspire the current crop of youngsters to push on and emulate the success Patterson and Neil have had.
The English coach has proven that he can get the best out of young players and help them to fulfil their potential. One great example of his work on the training pitch is the job he did with Ben Brereton Diaz at Blackburn.
Mowbray refused to ditch the winger and stuck by Diaz in spite of his poor form in front of goal and was rewarded for his faith with a whopping 29 goals and eight assists in the 2020/21 and 2021/22 league campaigns combined from the Chile international.
The Rovers attacker can play on either flank or through the middle and the Black Cats boss could now unearth his next version of the prolific scorer in academy youngster Max Thomspon, who can also play anywhere across the frontline.
The marksman, who journalist Josh Bunting dubbed “clinical” and a “real natural” goalscorer, has shown plenty of promise as a winger and as a striker at youth level and may have the potential to make the step up to first-team level.
He could now follow in Diaz’s footsteps as a talented young, goalscoring, forward who develops into a regular scorer in the Championship under Mowbray’s management. However, it is down to Thompson to fulfil his promise and adapt to playing at senior level if and when the chance comes.