Craig Liddle

Liddle lays down challenge

by Stuart Vose

Youngsters tasked with securing top-three spot.

Craig Liddle has challenged his side to round off 2012 by making sure of a top-three finish in Group 2 of the Barclays U18 Premier League.

The young Black Cats are third in the division, two points clear of fourth-placed Tottenham with a game in hand.

They will play Spurs in their final Group 2 game after heading to Stoke to face the Potters on Saturday.

Once the first round of games is completed, the league splits with the top-performing teams in each of the three groups clashing over the course of the second half of the season.

“We’ve got two league games to go and can finish third if we pick up a win in one of those two games,” Liddle said.

“That would be an excellent achievement by the boys because we are playing against excellent teams week in, week out.

“To finish third in our little group would be great but to do that we have to pick up at least one win.”

The reward for qualification for the elite second phase would be a tough schedule of games against the top teams – something Liddle says everyone at the Academy would relish.

“The games will be harder but I think that’s a challenge the boys will look forward to,” he explained.

“Without being disrespectful to anyone, we want to test ourselves against the best and hopefully we can nick that last spot.”