Development squad in action tonight

by Stuart Vose

Under-21's to take on West Brom.

Sunderland’s under-21’s are back in league action tonight as they host West Bromwich Albion at Eppleton CW (KO 7pm).

The game is the development squad’s first league encounter since October 19 and coach Kevin Ball is looking forward to getting back into competitive action with a tough encounter against the Baggies.

“Any game you play is difficult depending on the mindset you have for it,” he said.

I’m a big believer that your next game is always the hardest and you must apply yourself accordingly

- Kevin Ball

“By that I mean that I’m a big believer that your next game is always the hardest and you must apply yourself accordingly.

“It’s a great opportunity for us because we haven’t had a league game in a while.”

The under-21’s have played several friendlies of late and also took on the under-18 side in a practice game recently.

Ball is set to make changes after several members of his squad departed on loan, with Liam Marrs, Adam Mitchell and Joel Dixon all heading out on a temporary basis last week.

And keeping all his players sharp is a priority for the former Sunderland captain, who has plenty of competition for places in his squad.

“We try to make sure we have friendlies in between the league games,” Ball said.

“Plus we know we need to accommodate those players who are not involved in the starting eleven tonight.

“We’ve tried to have at least one game a week to get the players game time. We like to have that continuity.”

A win could see Sunderland return to the top of the Barclays U21 Premier League depending on results elsewhere.

The Black Cats sit second in the division with 17 points – two behind leaders West Ham with both sides having played eight games.

West Brom, meanwhile, sit in mid-table having won three, drawn one and lost four of their eight games so far.

Admission to tonight’s game is free for season card holders upon production of their current season card at the turnstiles.

Meanwhile cash admission is also available priced at £3 adults and £1 concessions.