Sunderland U18s manager Mark Atkinson wants his Black Cats youngster to finish the year on a high by progressing into the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.

The Wearsiders play at Vicarage Road on Sunday – facing a Watford side who are unbeaten since October.

While the Hornets go into the tie as favourites based on recent form, Atkinson hinted at confidence by stating lessons were learnt in last weekend’s narrow 3-2 defeat at fourth-placed Liverpool.

With the visit to a Premier League stadium falling as the last game of the year , Atkinson has called for his players to impress.

“We are playing at a first-team ground and it is a one off-game, so we have got to make sure we are at our best,” Atkinson told

“We want to finish this first part of the season off on a high.

“We are already through to the quarter-finals of the Premier League Cup, but we want to get through to the next round of the FA Youth Cup as well.”

The young Black Cats fell to a harsh late exit in the Premier League Cup at Melwood but can take pride in another standout display for Lee Connelly.

The Striker continued to grab the attention by adding another brace to his name at Melwood to increase his season tally.

Atkinson said: “We learned a lot last weekend with our second-half display about our game management.

“It was a cup game last weekend, we have another one this weekend, so we will take things from last Saturday’s match to Watford with us.

“It is a great game for us to be involved in.

“It is important for them because there is a big history behind the competition.

“They want to go far in it but there is of course added pressure with a match like this one.”