Saturday’s victory at Derby County will provide the youth team’s new crop of players a major boost, according to Mark Atkinson.
Sunderland under-18s were without six regular second-year scholars for their Premier League trip to the East Midlands last weekend as they featured for Elliott Dickman’s development team on Friday night at Brighton.
And despite fielding a younger youth team than normal, Atkinson’s Black Cats produced a defensively sound display as they frustrated the Rams to few clear sights of goal.
With the game heading for a goalless draw, Jordan Hickey surged forward to deal the Rams a knockout blow and secure three precious points for Sunderland – their first of 2018.
“Hopefully this result can give some of the younger lads a massive boost,” Atkinson told safc.com.
“With the under-23s playing on Friday night it meant we were without six players for the trip to Derby.
“But we want those players to be playing for the under-23s. It’s right that they are there and that allows us to bring through a few more faces.
“It means we can play some of the first-year scholars and under-16s.
“We want those players to be playing more and against Derby they came through it,” he continued.
“The result will give them a massive boost in confidence and hopefully they can kick on now.”