Second-year scholar in the spotlight.
Youngster George Honeyman will look to be a key player this season after beginning the second year of his scholarship with the club.
Honeyman, who hails from Prudhoe in Northumberland, is highly rated and featured for the Black Cats’ youth team while still at school.
The midfielder began his footballing journey with Prudhoe before joining Sunderland at the under-11 level under the guidance of former Wimbledon man Carlton Fairweather.
He was also coached by the likes of Paul Bryson and Academy manager Ged McNamee before arriving at the Academy of Light on a full-time basis at the start of last season.
Honeyman was a regular at under-18 level in 2011-12 and also featured five times for the reserves – making his debut in the 3-3 derby draw against Newcastle United at the Sports Direct Arena.
He was happy with the progress made last season but is now looking for more.
“I played quite a few games for the under-18s last season and broke into the reserves too, which was really pleasing,” he said.
“We’ve started well this year under the new manager and the win over Newcastle was really good.
“I hurt myself during the pre-season, but I’m back now and feeling much better. I’m concentrating on getting myself back to full fitness.”
Honeyman spent the first year of his scholarship under the tutelage of Kevin Ball and relished the opportunity to learn from the former Sunderland captain.
“He was a massive influence on me,” Honeyman explained. “Bally is a very strong character and not only is he a great coach, he is a great man as well.
“I learned a lot from him. Craig Liddle has come in now and he has quite a similar style. We’re getting to know him and he is a very good coach too.”
New boss Liddle, along with head of coaching Elliott Dickman, are guiding the young Black Cats in the new Barclays U18 Premier League in 2012-13.
A season-opening clash with Southampton ended in a narrow defeat, and the fixture schedule then handed Sunderland a long break before the derby against Newcastle.
The Wearsiders roared to a 4-2 win over their rivals and Honeyman is hoping that result is the precursor of a successful season on both personal and team fronts.
“The first game could have gone either way but the win over Newcastle really kicked off our season,” he said.
“The boys played really well and hopefully we can only get stronger from here. I want to play as often as I can and hopefully get myself back in the reserves as well.”