Tony Mowbray: Sunderland boss wants to combine winning games and blooding youngsters

Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray says that he has to find a combination of winning games and blooding young players.

Mowbray fielded a starting XI with an average age of just 21 years and eight months in Saturday's 3-1 win over Birmingham City.

"There's a fine balance and that is what I'm trying to get right," he said.

Victory over Blues left the Black Cats sixth in the Championship heading into the international break.

Sunderland have one of the youngest squads in the division and at 26, Patrick Roberts was the oldest player to start against Birmingham.

Scorer of their first goal, Jobe Bellingham - younger brother of Real Madrid and England star Jude - is still just 18, while the central defenders, Nectarios Triantis and Jenson Seelt are both 20.

It was a league debut for Australia Under-23 international Triantis, who arrived on Wearside in the summer from Central Coast Mariners.

But Mowbray said that he has to be wary of just turning Sunderland into a finishing school for gifted young players.

"We're excited by these young players," he told BBC Radio Newcastle.

"But my ultimate call is whether I think they're ready to start in front of this player or that player.

"We are trying to win football matches. We have 40,000 supporters and they come here to hopefully see Sunderland win, not just Sunderland giving a a load of young guys their debuts."