Could Mannone be on his way out of Sunderland to Manchester United. Picture credit: Richard Sellers/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Vito Mannone is one of the first team players to play for Stockdale’s side this year. Picture credit: Richard Sellers/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Sunderland U21s boss Robbie Stockdale has backed Dick Advocaat’s plans to include more first team players in the development squad. 

The U21 Premier League rules state that three over-age outfield players plus one goalkeeper can be included in the squad for league games, with Advocaat stating that it is ‘good for players’.

And Stockdale has given his support to Advocaat’s claims.

“As long as they come down with the right attitude, then it’s brilliant,” he said.

“You have to play 21s games between Friday and Monday, so if you play on a Friday, you’re stopping players who could be involved on a Saturday.

“You have to find that happy balance, but I think it’s good for them.”

Stockdale saw first team players Adam Johnson, Will Buckley, Sebastien Coates and Vito Mannone play a part in the 3-2 victory over Southampton on Easter Monday and believes it can help players improve.

“It’s something we’re looking at doing more often next season,” Stockdale said before Friday’s win over Fulham.

“For players like Sebastien Coates and Vito Mannone, when was the last time they played 90 minutes on a big pitch?

“You can run up and down for 90 minutes on a training pitch, but actually having to move and look at what is around you is different.”

A double from Duncan Watmore gave the U21 side a 2-0 victory over their Fulham counterparts at Craven Cottage on Friday.



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