Kevin Ball

Ball on United test

by Stuart Vose

U21 boss previews Monday night clash.

Kevin Ball says his development squad are relishing the challenge of taking on Manchester United tonight.

Sunderland’s second string head to Eppleton CW for the first time this season looking to build on a good run of recent results in the Barclays U21 Premier League.

Their last two outings – against Spurs and Newcastle, both away from home – ended 2-2 and Ball’s side will be hoping a return to Wearside will herald a first win of the campaign.

But the former Sunderland captain has warned that they will face tough resistance from a United side who were beaten 6-3 in the north east last season.

“We did well against them last year but that counts for nothing now,” he said.

“That’s the point I would make to anyone. In terms of how we’ve done recently, I’ve been pleased.

“It would be nice to build on the last couple of games, but it’s going to be difficult because Manchester United are a good side.

“It’s always tough when you play against them but again the lads here are really looking forward to the game.”

United have won both of their league outings so far in an ultra-competitive division.

The new U21 league was established in the summer with the goal of pitting the country’s best young talent against each other.

And Ball says that his youngsters are only going to benefit by taking part, explaining: “The idea is to challenge the players.

“They’re coming up against opponents who are at the top of their game at this level and this moment in time.

“We want our players to be amongst them and challenge themselves by competing with them.”