Elliott Dickman insists Sunderland under-23s must be at their best if they are to pick up a positive result at Manchester United on Friday, kick-off 7pm.
The young Black Cats lost 2-1 at home to Liverpool before the international break, after Rhian Brewster converted a late penalty, but Dickman was delighted with the resilience his side showed.
“The Lads were smashing against Liverpool, but there was still plenty of things we could have done better from a coaching point of view like winning the ball back and how we attack,” Dickman said.
“I was very happy with the way we defended; it was a tough way to lose after the own goal and the penalty, but these things happen.
“The lads’ attitude and commitment has been first class this season and recently there’s been plenty of encouragement on the pitch too.”
The clash with the Red Devils will be played at Old Trafford, and Dickman believes his young side should embrace the chance of taking centre stage at such an iconic stadium.
“It will be great for the lads to experience Old Trafford; it’s something they’ll be able to tell their families about in a few years time,” Dickman continued.
“It doesn’t matter where we play the game really, we know it will be a tough test and we’ll have to be at our best if we want to come away with anything.
“They have real quality in their squad; our concentration levels and focus will have to be at the best it’s been against a very good side.”
Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes could all feature for Utd; the trio have played under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this season in the Europa League.
Sunderland may be without centre-back Brandon Taylor for the clash due to his involvement with the first team, but Dickman is thrilled with his inclusion in the senior side.
“In total we had six under-23s players travel to the FA Cup game and it was a great opportunity to see how the first team prepare for games,” Dickman added.
“I was delighted for Brandon; he played the full 120 minutes and the feedback has been very positive.
“The hard thing for Brandon now is to keep his feet on the ground and keep working hard; that’s easier said than done, but knowing him and knowing the type of character he is I’m sure he will.”