Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Young Ben Can Keep the Faith ( McCarthy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Young Ben Can Keep the Faith ( McCarthy

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Mick McCarthy has challenged Ben Alnwick to stake his claim for Premiership football after insisting he has no qualms about putting Sunderland's Coca-Cola Championship title hopes in the inexperienced hands of the teenage goalkeeper.

With Mart Poom sidelined for the season and Thomas Myhre still struggling for fitness, the 18-year-old will make his second senior start this evening as the Black Cats attempt to record the triumph at West Ham which would guarantee first place in the final standings.

Alnwick made an accomplished debut last weekend, producing a string of saves at the Stadium of Light to help McCarthy's team record the defeat of Leicester which confirmed their promotion back to the top flight.

And although the England youth international lags behind his Wearside peers in terms of their vast first-team experience, his talents have given his manager confidence Alnwick could cope with the demands of the Premiership.

"I have said to him `get yourself in the nets and keep yourself in the nets'," said McCarthy of a player tipped to enjoy a bright future at the highest level.

"I would have no worries about going into a Premier League season with him in goal if he plays like he did against Leicester. He is a confident lad.

"With Tommy and Mart still injured, Ben will play and, on last weekend's performance, he deserves to. To have come in and played so well was an outstanding achievement and it will be nice for him to play in this televised game.

"He really performed at the weekend and was back to the best of his own high standards after having a bit of a dip in form. We have just re-signed Ben on a new four-year contract ( that's how highly we think of him here."

Alnwick is certain to still be at the Stadium of Light next season, but the long-term goalkeeping situation is otherwise uncertain. …

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