McNamee's youth update

by Stuart Vose

Academy manager on recent wins, injuries and Liverpool clash.

Academy manager Ged McNamee says the under-18 side’s attitude has been key to their recent good run of form.

The young Black Cats have won both of their last two games, starting with a superb 4-1 away win at high-flying Tottenham Hotspur.

The foundation of the result was the attitude and work rate of the lads

- McNamee on win at Boro

And they added a 3-0 derby success against Middlesbrough last weekend to make it back to back away victories and move up to fifth place in the Barclays U18 Premier League North.

“The lads carried on from the Tottenham game and our work rate was very, very good,” McNamee said.

“We pressed them high and used the ball well when we got it back. The foundation of the result was the attitude and work rate of the lads.

“We scored some good goals. Middlesbrough found it difficult to deal with Lynden Gooch with his work rate and runs off the ball – he caused them all sorts of problems.

“There was a good shape about the team throughout and the back four were very good.

“Middlesbrough never really opened us up and throughout the 90 minutes I can only recall James Talbot making one save.

“If I was being critical we probably should have scored more goals, but you could turn that around and say their keeper made some good saves.”

The youngsters have taken 13 points from their last seven games, scoring 14 goals in the process and McNamee says confidence is high after a tough start to the season.

“They had a difficult start against what you would consider to be some big teams, but they’ve stuck at it,” he said.

“We didn’t get what we deserved in or two games – certainly the game against Manchester United was one of those.

“There seems to be a greater belief in the team and the work ethic is very, very good.”

The under-18’s will be looking to make it three straight wins this weekend when Liverpool visit the Academy of Light on Saturday (KO 11.30am).

They’re playing with a bit of arrogance and confidence and resulst have definitely helped that

- McNamee on squad spirit

“There are no easy games in the Category One league and Liverpool will be coming here knowing we’ve put a couple of good results together,” McNamee added.

“Lynden is away with the US so he’ll be a miss, but the lads are confident and you can see that in their game.

“They’re playing with a bit of arrogance and confidence and results have definitely helped that.

“We’ve been pushing up some players from the under-16s, too – David Lowery played again at Middlesbrough and Andrew Nelson has been doing well. He picked up an injury last weekend but we’re hoping he’ll be okay for the Liverpool game.”

Indeed McNamee says the progress of his younger players has been a big positive with the likes of second-year scholars Jassem Sukar and Steven McCarthy nursing long-term injuries.

“Losing Jas has been a big blow for us because he was one of our best players in the pre-season games,” he explained.

“He dislocated his kneecap and has had a few added problems. He’s had an operation and you’d probably say his season is written off.

“Meanwhile Steven has had some niggling ankle injuries and has also had an operation. We’ve got a couple of the second-years out long-term, which gives the under-16’s an opportunity to come up and show what they’re capable of.”