Sunderland to Promote Young Strikers

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 13: Ji Dong-Won of Sunderland goes past John Flanagan of Liverpool during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Anfield on August 13, 2011 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Something to look out for over the last few (or more) weeks of the season:

MARTIN O’Neill says he hopes to give young forwards Connor Wickham and Ji Dong-won more of a run-out in Sunderland’s remaining games this season.

But he says they’ll have to earn their minutes on the pitch – rather than being allowed to play for playing’s sake.

He told the Echo: "I’m aware that players like Connor and Ji will be disappointed not to have had more time on the pitch.

"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.

While it's not as clear cut a message as fantasy managers might like, it is very interesting. Niklas Bendtner is only on loan at Sunderland, so it wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility that he will be the player sacrificed to get Wickham and Ji on the pitch.

And as a reminder, Sunderland have a tasty run on matches coming up. They host Spurs this weekend and then travel to Everton on Monday, but after that rough double they play Wolves, at Aston Villa, and then Bolton.

Fair warning.

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