Tom Robson

Young Guns: Tom Robson

by Ashley Houghton

Former Darlington youngster in the spotlight.

Tom Robson joined Sunderland in the summer of 2012 after coming through the centre of excellence at Darlington.

Hailing from Stanley, Robson - no relation to up-and-coming midfielder Ethan - is one of the shining lights in the under-18 side that currently lead their Barclays U18 Premier League group.

In fact, only Liam Agnew and Ross Holland have featured more than Robson this season.

When I first came in I was a bit nervy because I didn’t know anyone but all the lads and coaches have been great; they make you feel really welcome

- Tom Robson

And, though, he is delighted to be involved week in, week out, Robson told it was completely unexpected as a first-year scholar.

“I didn’t think I would play as much as I have this year because of the second-years,” Robson explained. “However, I’ve been drafted into the team and played a bit.

“We’ve won four of the last five and we’ve played really well which is really good to be part of.

“If we win our next two league games, against Spurs and Liverpool, both at home, we’ll go into the play-offs so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Robson joined up with Sunderland just prior to fellow Darlington man Liddle at the start of the season.

And Robson says having his former Quakers coach on Wearside has helped his progress ten-fold.

“I didn’t know he was coming here when I signed but after I was offered the contract I found out Lidds was coming here,” Robson explained.

“I’ve known him for five or six years, the first few years I didn’t know much of him then from under-14’s upwards I’ve worked with him.

“I get on well with Lidds, which is a good advantage.

He added: “When I first came in I was a bit nervy because I didn’t know anyone but all the lads and coaches have been great; they make you feel really welcome.

“I started off well, then I went through a patch of a month or so where I didn’t really get into the squad much but I had my friends and family at home and they picked me up and helped me kick on.”

Robson made his first appearance for Kevin Ball’s development squad in last Monday’s defeat to Blackburn Rovers; a just reward for his fine form with the U18s.

However, Robson conceded he didn’t expect to be playing at that level so soon into his time with the Black Cats.

“It was tough because I played 90 minutes on the Saturday and then I found out at lunchtime on Monday that I was playing in the 21’s,” he explained.

“I was at college, so the club came and picked me up and told me that I’d be playing that evening on the left wing.

“I’ve been playing left-back then the last three games I’ve played left midfield so I need to know my roles as part of my improvement.

“It was a bit different, in front of a stand, as we don’t do that very often at academy level. They [Blackburn] were experienced and older so it was tough and the pace is quick.”

Robson played alongside Mikael Mandron and Jordan Laidler on Monday, both of whom have been named on the substitutes’ bench under new head coach Paolo Di Canio.

And he says everyone at the academy is taking inspiration from the opportunities afforded to his teammates, explaining:

“When you see Mika and Jordan getting in there, it’s a great lift for us all.”