Coach pleased with performance of young squad.
Sunderland U18 coach Craig Liddle feels his young side can learn a lot from their 4-1 defeat at Liverpool last Saturday.
Liddle’s boys went down to a Liverpool side containing Jerome Sinclair, who is the Reds youngest ever first-team player, and Daniel Trickett-Smith, who signed for the Reds from Crewe for a fee reported to be in the region of £300,000.
The young Black Cats side didn’t contain one U18 player and instead saw the inclusion of multiple under-16 players; something Liddle believes played its part.
He said: “We had a couple of U15s on and numerous U16s, and, similarly to them, no U18’s on the pitch.
“We were just playing against a very good side that cost a large sum of money to assemble.
“It was pretty evenly matched but we didn’t play as well as we could, though, we couldn’t fault the players work rate and the effort.
“It’s a huge learning curve for the lads and I’m sure they’ll definitely benefit from it."
The game was broadcast live on LFCTV and, though, Liddle wants to avoid looking for excuses, he feels the cameras inevitably had an impact on his team’s first-half performance.
“We’re not looking for excuses but we were a very young side and going down to Liverpool, who are a massive club, live on TV, it does have an effect on the boys. No matter what anybody says, I think it is a huge challenge for them.
“We started very slowly and I think that was down to nerves and a little bit of apprehension on our lads' behalf, but, as I say, the pleasing thing is that we responded in the second half.”
One positive Liddle took from the game at Melwood was the performances of the younger players, especially Jordan Blinco, who grabbed his first goal for the under-18s ahead of joining full-time in the summer, and Daniel Wright who also impressed.
“He [Blinco] is a very quiet, introverted lad,” Liddle explained.
“The goal and his performance will have done him the world of good in terms of confidence because it’s a huge step for him.
“He was at Darlington last year with me and he’s come in to a huge club, playing against one of the best academies in the country so that’ll be a massive boost for him.
“Young Dan Wright, who is an U15 player, also came on and looked very accomplished on the ball in midfield.”