Jack's advice for youngsters

by Stuart Vose

Wise words from rising star.

Sunderland's youngsters looking for a path to the first team could do worse than follow the path forged by midfielder Jack Colback.

Martin O'Neill has challenged his young guns to sparkle and included several rookie professionals in his squad for the trip to South Korea.

Several - including striker Ryan Noble - have pressed their claims for senior recognition, just as Colback did two seasons ago.

Having made his full debut at Wolves on the final day of the 2009-10 campaign, the product of the club's Academy used the following pre-season to make his mark.

He was initially sent back to Ipswich - where he had spent much of the previous season - on loan, but returned in January 2011 and seized his chance, playing a useful 12 games.

And 2011-12 saw Colback complete the transformation from hot prospect to key first-teamer as he made 40 appearances - only Stephane Sessegnon figured on more occasions.

Now the door is open for others to follow, and Colback says pre-season is a vital time for those hoping to catch O'Neill's eye.

"It's been good to see some of the younger players getting a chance and pre-season is the time to impress," he said.

"They have to come into it thinking that they can show the manager something different and that they're not just there to make the numbers up.

"They've got to show him something and for example Ryan Noble's goal against Groningen did that.

"Obviously I am close to all the young lads here because I've known a lot of them for a long time."

Colback continued: "I've been through that stage of being on the fringes trying to break in. Sometimes it's tough and you need a bit of luck.

"But the fact that they've been involved is a positive for them."