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Ball's youth hope with Poyet

Kevin Ball hopes that Gus Poyet will continue to grow the relationship between Sunderland's first-team and youth squads.

Last Updated: 12/10/13 at 16:36 Post Comment

Kevin Ball: Sunderland academy chief wants young players to progress

Kevin Ball: Sunderland academy chief wants young players to progress

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Academy chief Ball, who was caretaker boss at Sunderland following the sacking of Paolo Di Canio, admits that the relationship between the seniors and other squads was not as he would have liked under the Italian.

However, Ball looked to change things during his brief tenure and feels Poyet will make sure that there is more involvement between all players at the club.

"Paolo Di Canio had nothing against the Under-21s - I think he just wanted to concentrate on the first team, and that was his prerogative as manager," he told the Sunderland Echo.

"Mine would always be, if I was in charge as manager, I would want a certain integration.

"My view is that the 18s needs to dovetail with the 21s and the 21s need to dovetail with the first team and if it means that they mix in at the right time then so be it.

"Obviously you reserve the right to train separately.

"But I find it's good to have the 18s training with the 21s at times because the 18s might think it's easy and most quickly find that it's not - that it's a lot quicker.

"And then the 21s might train with the first team and find exactly the same themselves.

"On the other hand you'll see some of the under 18s doing well enough to merit involvement with the 21s and some of the 21s doing well enough to merit involvement with the first team.

"I'm mindful that the first team has the experience, the strength, the physicality and the greater skill levels but they can be energised by being up against younger players."

Ball admits that he was quick to make sure all the players mixed together when appropriate.

"I did it with practice matches to give squad players who have had little involvement in the first team some match practice," he said.

"And I thought it worked well because it gave the 21s a view of the first team.

"They get to know each other and understand each other and it helps increase knowledge experience and competition within the group."

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e'll be fine, no problem. If they do get relegated, he's definitely going to ask how anyone could ever have thought that Villa were going to be fine given their problems before he came.

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