CHRIS Coleman was full of praise for his young players that helped secure Sunderland’s first league win of 2018, but admitted the squad still needed strengthening in the fight to avoid the drop.

Joel Asoro’s 20th minute strike gave the Black Cats a much needed three points against Hull City at the Stadium of Light this afternoon, and kept them in the relegation zone only on goal difference.

Although he was impressed with the 18-year-old Swede, along with Josh Maja and Ethan Robson, who made his first league start for the club, Coleman said “strength in depth” was needed.

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“I thought something was over the line – we’ve got a deal with a club. We are waiting for an answer and a decision from a player. Until it’s done I can’t say yet, but that’s where we are.

“You see the vulnerability in the squad, and it’s tough for young players to go week in, week out in this league.

“There is no good saying we’ve won, we’ve got all the answers, and we are going to be alright now. We have got to build on what we’ve got, try and help the squad out and increase the strength in depth.”

Despite his caution, Coleman was clearly thrilled with the performance of his young team, and singled out the goal scorer and Maja for particular praise.

“Two games we won here, Josh (Maja) got the winner against Fulham, and Joel got the winner today. It was a fantastic goal, the passing and the movement and the finish was brilliant, so they deserve a pat on the back.

“There’s more to come - they have to keep working hard and they are by no means the finished article.

“They haven’t made it as a professional footballer yet, they’ve got contracts but we’re talking about season players - there’s a long way to go yet and a lot of hard work.

“Right now where we are they are going to get experience, and they’ve got to milk every last ounce of the minutes they get on the pitch and learn from it.

Coleman couldn’t avoid heaping praise on Ethan Robson, or “young Robbo” as he called him.

“He put his foot in, he had presence, awareness, I thought he was excellent in how he received the ball – I am really really pleased for young Robo.

“He did well in the cup game against a good Boro team, but here, on his home debut, really really good."

“It doesn’t matter what players you’ve got, it is all about having that harmony. You can’t do anything without unity, and today I saw it.

"The eleven games I have been here, five clean sheets, four wins, we’ve seen a lot of good signs but we’ve been slack one or twice.

"We had no clean sheets in the first seventeen games, and now we’ve had five in the last 11, so there is improvement there. But it is about consistency, and we have to go to Birmingham in the next game and we’ve got to go there with the same attitude as today."