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Promising attacker Carl Lawson is in the second year of his scholarship with Sunderland, the team he has supported since childhood.
Lawson, who turns 18 at the beginning of October, has been on the club’s books since joining as an under-12.
He most often plays in a withdrawn attacking role and made 12 appearances for the under-18s last season, scoring three goals.
I'm a Sunderland fan and I'm really privileged to play for my home-town club
- Carl Lawson
Lawson started his football career with Fulwell, a club playing in the local Sunday league.
He also had spells being coached at Euro Camps before returning to Fulwell, where he played alongside current colleagues Callum Hope and Ross Holland.
Then Sunderland came calling, eventually offering the talented youngster a two-year apprenticeship which he started in July 2011.
And Lawson admits he’s living the dream having watched the Black Cats from the terraces.
“I'm a Sunderland fan and I'm really privileged to play for my home-town club,” he said.
“It's hard because there's so many good players coming through and you think ‘will I get a chance to play for the first team?’. But you've just got to think positively and hope for the best.
“I play more of a withdrawn attacking role. Not as much defending, but going forward and trying to create something, try to make something happen. Basically picking the balls up in little gaps up front and trying to score goals.
“I like David Silva as he drops deep and tries to make something happen. I try to watch him on TV as much as I can.”
As well as playing in the Premier Academy League, Lawson is also studying for various qualifications under the watchful eye of Brian Buddle, the club’s head of education and welfare.
Lawson and his team-mates travelled to Holland for a pre-season tournament before kicking off the 2012-13 campaign at home to Southampton.
A tough game ended in a 4-3 defeat for the Black Cats, though Lawson did open his season with a goal when he curled home a shot from close range.
The game was the first competitive match under new coach Craig Liddle, who joined the club in the summer having managed Darlington in the Conference Premier last season.
Liddle replaced former Sunderland captain Kevin Ball, who moved up to work with the new under-21 development squad.
“Craig Liddle has been very good,” Lawson said. “It's difficult to get used to a new coach straight away but he brings new things to the team.
“He's got so much experience and he can pass it down to us. He tells us what he used to do when he was playing at our age.”
He continued: “The Southampton game started off really quickly and they were good going forward.
“Once they went ahead we didn't let our heads drop; we continued playing well. But we didn't take our chances and sometimes we were a bit sloppy at the back.”
Now the attacker is looking forward to completing his second season and hopefully moving forward with the club.
He added: “Hopefully at the end of the year I can get a professional contract here and see where it takes me, then maybe go on loan somewhere in the future. That would definitely help me."
Next week: Meet defender Jassem Sukar.