Chris Coleman will be without Bryan Oviedo, Paddy McNair and a host of others when Sunderland travel to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, but the Welshman believes the club’s youngsters are ready to step up and fill the void.
Joel Asoro has caught the eye in recent weeks and Josh Maja is also waiting in the wings following a return to training, with Coleman rebuffing any concerns about their ability – both mentally and physically – as he seeks to guide his injury-laden squad through the festive period.
On Saturday, the Welshman and the Black Cats arguably face their biggest test of the campaign with a trip to Molineux to face league-leaders Wolves on the horizon.
And although a number of first-team regulars will miss out, Coleman firmly believes the club’s young guns are more than ready to step and make their mark.
“After last Saturday, we’ve lost Bryan Oviedo for two to three weeks and it will probably be another week before Paddy McNair joins in,” said Coleman.
“Billy Jones joined in a light session today which is good news and so did Didier Ndong – they’re obviously nowhere near ready to play – but they came through okay.”
He continued: “If we look forward it’ll give some of the younger players a taste of it.
“Young Joel Asoro came on last week and did very, very well and he did well in the game before, but the problem with Joel is that he had a really bad fall at the end of the [Reading] game.
“He clunked his head and hasn’t trained all week so we’ve had to be very careful, although he did train today – it was a light session – and he’ll train tomorrow.
“Whether that’s enough for him to start is a different question, but this young man is confident and he won’t be put off even if he starts against Wolves and it won’t faze him.
“Mentally he’s ready and he’s shown good glimpses of his ability, and we also have Josh Maja to come back from injury and he’s a good young player.
“These boys have shown a little bit and I think they’ve got something to say, I really do.”