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If youngsters knuckle down, the new Cats boss has talent for the first team.

FORMER Sunderland star Darren Holloway believes that a number of Black Cats youngsters could get a chance in the first team squad, and urged them to 'knuckle down' and impress new manager Simon Grayson.

In his role as Blyth Spartans assistant manager Holloway was able to witness the resources that Elliott Dickman and Cliff Byrne can offer the new Black Cats boss on Tuesday night.

The newly-promoted National League North club inflicted a 3-2 defeat on the Black Cats youngsters, with former Whitby Town midfielder David McTiernan scoring a hat-trick inside six second half minutes.

But Holloway saw enough in the Black Cats side to suggest that some of them could offer Grayson something to think about ahead of the Championship season.

Holloway said: "I know there are a few that have been floating around the first team and I know from talking to Elliott (Dickman) and Cliffy (Byrne) that four or five have been training with the first team.

"I think that is really important for them to be in and around that environment, playing alongside international players and experienced players.

"They have come to us as a nonleague club because it's a dose of reality for them. We are a nonleague club at Spartans but we are men.

"They are relatively young and inexperienced so hopefully they can learn from the game and continue their development by training with the Sunderland first team.

"A couple caught the eye tonight but the challenge for them is to knuckle down and impress Simon Grayson."

Holloway made over fifty appearances for Sunderland under Peter Reid and experienced life in the Premier League and the Championship during his career.

Relegation can often hand young players an opportunity to break into the first team and Holloway believes that the Black Cats demotion can offer their youngsters a route into the first team.

"The relegation can benefit them, definitely," admitted Holloway.

"In reality you aren't getting as many international players coming to a Championship club.

"The level of player you need to be isn't what it is in the Premier League. It is a steep learning curve in the Championship and if they get a chance they need to learn from every game. We had it here with Luke Armstrong last season.

"He left to join Middlesbrough earlier in the season and we thought with Boro getting relegated he might get a chance to play this season.

"That might not happen because they are spending a lot of money on centre forwards so it might not help his case.

"Sunderland haven't spent that money as yet, so if these lads we have seen tonight get a chance, they have to take it."

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Elliott Dickman

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 20, 2017
Words:452
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