Picture credit: Dave Howarth/EMPICS Sport

Elliott Dickman believes his Sunderland Under-23 side can end their worrying goal drought away at Hull City in the Premier League Cup tonight.

The Black Cats have failed to score in their last two league games against Leicester City and Swansea City, with Dickman admitting that his players must be more ruthless in front of goal.

“It is something we are working very hard on the training ground to improve,” Dickman told the SAFC website.

“Sometimes it is just a bit of a natural thing to know where to be when the ball comes into the box. We have got to be a bit more ruthless and it has got to mean everything to them. Players must want to score.”

At the other end of the pitch, Sunderland’s backline has looked fairly solid recently, following two clean sheets in their last five games.

Even so, Dickman still believes that there’s room for improvement. “It is the same at the back with the defenders,” he added. “The players must want to do everything to keep a clean sheet.

“Defenders generally have that but one or two of our strikers could do with being a bit more aggressive in the final third with their shots.”

Sunderland’s 2-0 defeat to Swansea on Sunday left them 11th in Premier League Two Division One with just nine points from 11 games.

The cup could act as a welcome distraction, though, and a win at North Ferriby would put the Black Cats in a good position to qualify for the knockout stages.

After a chastening 5-0 defeat at home to Brighton, Dickman’s men beat Exeter Under-23s at the start of November, meaning all four teams in the group have one win and one loss to their name.

Sunderland will face each team home and away before the end of February, with the top two qualifying from the group.