U21s travel to Gateshead

by Oscar Chamberlain

Development squad in friendly action.

Sunderland’s U21s continue their pre-season today with a short trip to face Gateshead at the International Stadium.

The young Black Cats have enjoyed a terrific pre-season so far, with players featuring for the first team on three occasions to pick up three wins from three against Carlisle United, Hartlepool United and Recreativo de Huelva.

Next up for the development squad is a trip to Gateshead, and the coach believes the Tynesiders will provide the U21s with a tough test.

“Personally I think it will be the toughest match of pre-season. I watched Gateshead last season and for me Gary Mills has them playing the best football of any side in the Football Conference.

“They have also got a physical aspect to them which you need at that level, so it will be a good test and a good experience for the players.”

He added: “The two teams will both try and play football and both teams have similar styles, so it should be a very open game.”

On Tuesday the U21s put in yet another impressive first-team display to beat Recreativo de Huelva 1-0, and although Stockdale was delighted with their performance, he was not at all surprised.

“It was a fantastic experience off the back off a great week for them, and they were very grateful for the opportunity.

“That said it wasn’t a surprise for me to see how well they’ve done, but hopefully people have stood up and taken notice because they are a very good group.”

Earlier this week the Barclays U21 Premier League fixtures were also announced, and with trips to Old Trafford and Anfield to look forward to the young Black Cats have an exciting season ahead. 

“We played at Anfield last year but some of the games we have this year are absolutely fantastic,” Stockdale said.

“I think the Barclays Premier League are trying to push and increase the profile of the U21s so the more games we play the better.”

He continued: “We have an exciting season ahead and this match is the next step.

“With it being a local game we will hopefully see some of our fans come down and support the team; they have been magnificent throughout pre-season and the players and I are really looking forward to it.”