David Moyes says he would have no issue with including several youngsters in rock-bottom Sunderland's squad for a tough midweek Premier League clash with Arsenal as injury problems continue to bite. The relegated Black Cats travel to North London on Tuesday evening (16 May) for the penultimate outing of a truly disastrous campaign three days after going down 2-0 to Swansea City in typically wretched fashion at the Stadium of Light.
Academy graduate midfielder George Honeyman, Lee Cattermole and Steven Pienaar all missed that aforementioned loss that helped Swansea to secure another season of top-flight football, as did long-term absentees Jan Kirchhoff, Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore. Both centre-back Jason Denayer and striker Victor Anichebe limped off in the first half with thigh and hamstring problems respectively.
Moyes does not believe that any of that number are likely to be fit to face Arsenal, with other unnamed players now also coming forward and complaining of injury issues.
And while the underfire Scot has zero qualms about handing greater senior experience to Sunderland's youthful crop, the prospect of an U23 Premier League International Cup final against FC Porto on Wednesday rather complicates matters somewhat.
"At the moment I wouldn't think so," Moyes said when asked as to the prospect of Denayer, Anichebe or Honeyman featuring at the Emirates Stadium. "I'm more concerned that I've got a couple of others now saying that they've got injuries as well. I need to try and make sure I've got a team to put out. We'll definitely have a team to put out and we'll definitely go there and be committed, but we've got one or two we're not sure about."
He added: "It might be that we have to take the kids with us to Arsenal in some cases, which isn't a problem. The ones who would be involved, maybe George Honeyman who is injured, Lynden Gooch, Donald Love, are all young enough to play in the game on Wednesday night as well. The next group down is like Elliot Embleton, Josh [Maja] and Joel Asoro. If we need to dip in and bring them and use them on the bench, we will do. But obviously we'd like to keep them for the game on Wednesday night."
The make-up of Sunderland's squad for a first season in the Championship since 2006-07 is likely to be radically different, with eight senior players out of contract and three loanees – Denayer, Javier Manquillo and Adnan Januzaj – set to return to their parent clubs. Moyes said that he hoped to reveal by next week which players were set to join him in staying on Wearside.
"We've spoken to everybody at the club who has got a situation where their contracts could be terminating or they could be leaving," he said. "We've spoken to the players in that situation and they all know – they are ongoing. We've past them on to [chief executive] Martin Bain and they'll speak with their agents etcetera and see where we'll go with it.
"We've decided on players who we would like to stay, but those players will have an option whether they want to stay or not. I think we will keep that and hopefully give you some news by the end of next week."