The Academy of Light in Cleadon

Young Black Cats host Rovers

by Stuart Vose

U18s back in league action on Saturday (KO 12 noon).

Sunderland’s under-18's will play their second game in four days when they welcome Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.

The young Black Cats face the Lancashire side at the Academy of Light (KO 12 noon) looking to make it four wins out of five in the Barclays U18 Premier League.

Sunderland have lost just once since the back end of October and currently sit sixth in their division, three points and two places above Saturday’s opponents.

They notched a penalty shoot-out win over Ipswich in the FA Youth Cup in midweek to set up a tie against either Newcastle or Barnsley in the fourth round.

And coach Carlton Fairweather admits a gruelling 120 minutes on Wednesday night may well play into team selection for Saturday’s game.

“We’re bearing in mind that the players are going to be tired,” he said.

“We may have to give certain players a rest because they’ve played in a lot of the games, and bring in some younger players from the under-16's.

“It’s a good opportunity for those lads and maybe for one or two of them it will be their first opportunity playing in the under-18's.

“It’s up to them to step up to the plate and show what they can do.”

The youngsters certainly haven’t lacked for goals as late, scoring 15 times in their last four games including a 7-0 home win over Bolton last time out.

And Fairweather is hoping that the side can continue their progress at both ends of the field.

“We’ve been performing well and scoring goals, while the clean sheet was pleasing,” he said.

“That’s been a plus so hopefully we can keep that up and continue to play well. As I always say, the players’ development is the most important thing.”