Coaching and Development Manager
Football Federation South Australia
O'Neill - The kids are alright
Martin O'Neill is set to throw his young guns into the firing line as Sunderland aim to battle their way up the Premier League.
His side have passed the 40-point milestone that many managers regard as the minimum required to stay in the top-flight.
James McClean was unheard of outside the club a year ago and forced his way into the side under the new boss to now be considered a first-team regular.
And now O'Neill wants to hand out some much-needed minutes on the pitch to the likes of Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won and hand them the chance to prove their worth to the boss.
"I'm aware that players like Connor and Ji will be disappointed not to have had more time on the pitch," O'Neill told the Sunderland Echo.
"And now that we've passed the 40-point mark there's maybe the opportunity to use the squad more.
"But we still want to finish this season very strongly and they'll have to merit their inclusion.
"It would be nice during the course of the next seven matches if some of the younger lads get more of a chance to set them up for the summer, but that's the challenge for them.
"If things had been different this season, we might have sent them out on loan purely to get them four or five full games or so, in order that they can come back sharper and fitter.
"But that hasn't been an option for us because we've not got the biggest squad and we haven't been able to let too many go out.
"It's great when players come into the side and prove they're worthy of staying in it, and that's what I'd like to see happen."
Date: 2012-04-04 13:09:36