Fairweather pleased with progress

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U18 coach on development, Greenwood and Ipswich cup tie.

Under-18 coach Carlton Fairweather says the young Black Cats’ coaching staff are pleased with the performance level of their young squad after Sunderland were defeated 3-1 by Liverpool last weekend.

The young Black Cats’ squad is made up of only eight under-18 players, two of which are currently injured, with the rest consisting of first-year scholars and under-16’s.

And Fairweather has been delighted with the development of the younger players in recent weeks.

“Liverpool are a good side with some good individual players and we played really well, though, we did perhaps let ourselves down with some of the goals we gave away,” he said.

“What we have to remember is that we are a side that is made up of maybe five or six under-18’s and then all the rest are first-year scholars or under-16’s.

“The positive we take is that we’re competing against the bigger clubs who can go out and buy players so if you look at that with the likes of Liverpool in the grand scheme of things we aren’t doing badly.

“What we look for is that development so even if they make mistakes they learn from them and develop from them so hopefully the opportunity eventually arises for them to go to the next level with the under-21’s and also the first team.”

Rees Greenwood scored from the spot in the defeat to the Reds picking up his fifth goal in three games in the process.

And Fairweather says the staff at the Academy of Light are excited by the Winlaton-born youngster.

“Rees is a fantastic prospect at this time; a very exciting one as well,” he added. “When he gets the ball there is a buzz when you wait to see what he is going to do.

“At this particular time he is creating things, he can score goals and he’s also improving the defensive side of his game as well – developing into an all-round player – which is to his benefit and he could be very good.”

Sunderland have been handed an away tie to Ipswich Town in the third round of the FA Youth Cup at Portman Road.

An opportunity Fairweather hopes the youngsters will relish, though, he has urged them to play the match and not the occasion.

“Ipswich always produce very good academy teams and obviously they’ve had players who have progressed through and played in their first team and in the league,” Fairweather continued.

“It’ll be a really tough game, [it will be] very exciting for the lads to be playing at a stadium so we’ll look forward to it.

“We always say when we play the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United in big games to not play the badge but to play the team.”