Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Kids Are Alright, but Will Boss Pick Them? THE PREVIEW: Burnley V Sunderland in an Ideal World, Black Cats Boss David Moyes Would Use an FA Cup Replay to Freshen Weary Legs but Stuart Rayner Asks: Can He Take the Risk at Turf Moor Tonight?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Kids Are Alright, but Will Boss Pick Them? THE PREVIEW: Burnley V Sunderland in an Ideal World, Black Cats Boss David Moyes Would Use an FA Cup Replay to Freshen Weary Legs but Stuart Rayner Asks: Can He Take the Risk at Turf Moor Tonight?

Article excerpt

IT was the second dismal home performance in as many home games. Again the response from Sunderland's bench was the same - nothing. Well, it had been almost nothing the first time.

With seven minutes to go in the FA Cup third-round tie against Burnley, David Moyes had finally turned to his substitutes, throwing John O'Shea into the fray.

If the Black Cats were uninspired that day, they were dreadful against Stoke City. No substitutions were made.

"I didn't think what we had (on the bench) would have necessarily made it any better," Moyes argued.

So for tonight's FA Cup replay at Burnley, can Sunderland's manager afford to turn to the likes of Ethan Robson, Joel Asoro, George Honeyman, Josh Maja, Elliott Embleton and Michael Ledger, players he has been pointedly ignoring recently? If he does, can he convince these young players he believes in them? Facing his eighth game in 35 days, Moyes would no doubt like to freshen things up. Patrick van Aanholt, Papy Djilobodji, Fabio Borini and Jermain Defoe have played every minute of the previous seven, and against the Potters it showed.

BLACK NEARLY Unused since Moyes had seven senior players injured at

the weekend and three more at the George Joel African Cup of Nations. The only seniors on the bench were two right-backs (Billy Jones and Javier Manquillo) and a reserve goalkeeper in Mika who is yet to play firstteam football for the club. Hardly game-changers.

Elliott Josh Michael Ethan On the one hand, the argument goes that the youngsters sat alongside them could scarcely have done any worse than a team which showed such a paucity of ability that day and, more worryingly, effort in some cases. His side 3-0 down inside 35 minutes, was there anything to lose? It was a point made forcefully by some of those in the stands which emptied quickly in the face of Sunderland's meek surrender to the Potters.

The counter-argument, as made by Don Hutchison on the following pages, is that exposing too many youngsters at once in such difficult circumstances could break them permanently. Asoro, Maja and Embleton are still teenagers, as is Ledger.

Burnley are not a soft touch. There are many things you can describe the Clarets as, but pretty-pretty is not one of them. They destroyed Sunderland's best available team 4-1 just over a fortnight ago.

These are the fine judgements Premier League managers are well paid to make. Many of those calling for the kids will have done so out of blind faith. Only a few will have seen them play in the second string but it is one of football's truisms that one sure-fire way of improving your reputation is by not playing. A lot of the disgruntled wanted to gamble on a change based on what they were seeing at the moment rather than any deep knowledge of what there was instead.

Not that this necessarily makes them wrong. …

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