'Force your way in': Ross challenges youngsters to shine

Jack Ross has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged Sunderland’s young guns to seize their chance in pre-season.

The Black Cats boss thrusted a plethora of academy products into his squad at South Shields last night, hoping they would stake their claim.

Likening it to the opportunity he gave Josh Maja and Denver Hume last term, Ross is determined to show faith in the club’s youth system once again as defender Jack Bainbridge featured for an hour while Ethan Robson marked his return with a goal.

Quartet Jake Hackett, Elliot Embleton, Benji Kimpioka and Anthony Patterson were given 45 minutes while full-back Jordan Hunter replaced Bainbridge for the final half hour.

Speaking to safc.com about their involvement, the Scot was pleased with the Lads’ contributed and admitted, now is the time of year to prove your worth.

“I’ve been pleased with them and there were a number of the younger players playing on Thursday,” he said.

“It’s good for them to be a part of it and I think we saw last season if you take Josh (Maja) and Denver (Hume) as an example of it that there’s an opportunity to force your way into the reckoning.

“Like Ethan (Robson) and Elliot (Embleton), they are players we have produced ourselves and we should embrace that rather than being obsessed by recruiting from elsewhere. 

“They need that opportunity which hopefully I will be able to give them, but they also need to prove they are capable of taking it and then producing time after time which comes with the demands of playing for this club.

“I’m pleased with a lot of them and I think Ethan and Elliot have benefited from the loan periods they had last year.”

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