Barring a miracle, Sunderland will almost certainly be playing Championship football next season. Several highly-rated youngsters will be looking to take advantage of this and break into the first team. Some have already experienced life at the highest level; others will be looking to make the step up after a successful Under-23 campaign which has seen the promising side reach the Premier League International Cup Final. They dispatched the likes of Benfica, PSV Eindhoven and Athletic Bilbao on the way.
Many current first team players are expected to move on if and when relegation is confirmed. Here is a look at just some of the Sunderland youngsters looking to make their mark for the Black Cats next season.
Sunderland Youngsters to Look out for Next Season
Only 18, the young Swede has recently been nominated for the European Golden Boy Award. The shortlist for this includes the like of Marcus Rashford and Gabriel Jesus. Having arrived on Wearside in 2015, the lightning quick attacker has settled in with no problems. He has progressed through the ranks with many praising him and looking forward to watching him develop.
This season has seen him score the winner in the semi-final of the Premier League International Cup and feature for the first team in both league and cup. By doing so he became both Sunderland’s and Sweden’s youngest Premier League player. His rise to the first team squad saw him rewarded with a call up to the Sweden Under-21 squad too. He didn’t let anyone down, scoring in his second game. Reports have suggested that some of Europe’s top clubs sent scouts to watch him.
The youngster certainly has potential and if he can continue his development, he could prove to be valuable player to David Moyes in the coming seasons. If they can keep hold of him.
A regular around Sunderland’s Academy of Light, Robson has been with the club since the age of eight. Now a permanent member of the club’s academy side, he has progressed through the ranks and is seen by many as potential first-teamer.
After making the step up from Under-18 level, Robson became no stranger to Player of the Month awards and during Sam Allardyce’s reign on Wearside he began training with the first team. This has continued under David Moyes and this exposure can only help his development. He was expected to leave on loan in January with several clubs keen to sign him, but Moyes blocked the moves. Predominantly a central midfielder, he can also play on both flanks when required.
With the inevitable vultures about to circulate on Jordan Pickford and reports surfacing that Vito Mannone could also depart, Stryjek could find himself in next season’s first team squad. The commanding Polish shot-stopper has been capped by his country at under-17, 18 and 19 levels.
Since joining the club during the 2012-13 season, he has became a regular for the Black Cats development side. His outstanding performances during Sunderland’s Under-23s European campaign this season has helped them reach the final. The number one position could be up for grabs next season and Stryjek could be the one the David Moyes looks to.
Having impressed at youth level for Sunderland and for the England Under-21s, the young forward became a feature in Sunderland’s first team squad. Unfortunately, an injury early this season ruled him out for the long-term.
A player of the season award for the Under-23s as well as awards for England made many sit up and take notice of the talented youngster. He made the step up to first team level with ease and continued to impress when on England Under-21 duty. His injury last year was unfortunate, but a season playing week in, week out against Championship defences could benefit him and Sunderland.
Gooch impressed on loan at Doncaster Rovers and in the Under-23s last season. Moyes promoted the young American to the first team squad last summer and although inexperienced at the top level, he performed well. His performances led to his being selected for the USA senior side.
Gooch was certainly living the American Dream until an injury ruled him out of contention. Since recovering from injury he has yet to reclaim his place in the first team. The next 12 months could prove whether he has what it takes to play at Championship or Premier League level on a regular basis. He is certainly highly thought of at both club and country levels, but it is now up to him.