Elliott Dickman has admitted while lessons have been harsh on Sunderland’s young guns this season, it will act as an excellent learning curve in their careers.
The young Black Cats round off their Premier League 2 campaign this evening away at Southampton, kick-off 7pm.
A point in their final home match against Fulham saw Dickman’s youthful under-23s show plenty of heart and fight as they fought back against Fulham through Lee Connelly to avoid defeat.
But now with their season just 90 minutes from ending, the development squad's boss has taken the opportunity to praise the endeavour of his young squad to keep going through what has been a largely testing campaign.
“I’m delighted for them that they got a result last time out because it’s been a tough season in terms of our league position,” he said.
“But I’ve seen them grow, learn and mature into young men and there’s been good improvement in some of the players.
“It’s nice to finish a home game with a positive result and now we head to Southampton looking to end the season on a good note too.”
“Once you get to January and onwards, I think most teams are quite young in the under-23s,” he continued.
“But you look at someone like Dan Neil, who has just left school last July.
“To come in and have his first full season with the under-23s is fantastic for his development and learning.
"The challenge for him next season is he’s got to kick on and use the experiences from this season to keep improving and keep developing.”