Coach looks ahead to tonight's game at Eppleton CW.
Robbie Stockdale cannot wait to get the Barclays U21 Premier League under way.
Sunderland kick off the 2014-15 campaign this evening with a home match against Liverpool, which will take place at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare ground.
And Stockdale is expected a tough test for the young Black Cats, who will be looking to build upon an impressive pre-season campaign.
“We are all looking forward to it,” said Stockdale. “Pre-season seems to have taken forever if I’m being honest, there were some fantastic experiences but it will be nice to get into our fixture programme.
“A problem with the U21 league is that you can’t always prepare for the games because you don’t know what team you will face, but we know we are up against a very good team and whoever is selected will provide a very good test for us.”
He added: “Hopefully we will play our football and impose ourselves on the game, because we are looking to start the season strongly.”
Stockdale also looked further ahead, explaining the overall aims of the Academy as they look to produce players ready for first-team action.
“What we are looking for now is to focus on the positives from pre-season and work out the negatives.
“We set aims in terms of player development but as a team we recognise that our line up may change from game to game, so what we will be looking to do is maintain the same footballing philosophy regardless of who plays.
“We also have to develop players for the first team, and ensure that if they are fortunate enough to be called up - or go out on loan – they are in the right state of mind to perform.
“But first and foremost it is about performance and getting the players to play well.”