HOWARD WILKINSON singled out Sean Thornton as a Premiership star in the making last night after the midfielder made an impressive debut in Sunderland's FA Cup victory.

Thornton, 19, stole the show with an eye-catching display on his first senior appearance since arriving from Tranmere Rovers in the summer.

He played well enough to force his way into the first-team reckoning for the rest of the season and Wilkinson was delighted with the teenager's contribution.

The Sunderland manager said: "Sean has done his chances no harm at all this evening.

"He took a lot of responsibility and was very mature. He looked very comfortable.

"If that was a measure of what that young boy can do, I'll be very pleased. But he has now got to do that regularly."

Wilkinson was left to rue the fact that the tie went to extra time, but was full of praise for a performance that merited victory.

He said: "I wasn't at all concerned about the result. They passed the ball well, played without fear and created chances.

"With the amount of possession we had, and as any signs of nervousness started to drain away, I thought the result would come.

"Given the fact that they had never played together before and there were two debutants, they did very well.

"Some of the players did themselves no harm. To be honest, there haven't been many games where there has been much competition in terms of picking the team."

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce admitted his depleted side got what they deserved after succumbing to Sunderland pressure in extra time.

He said: "We should have won the first game last week, but we were second best tonight.

"Neither of us wanted extra time, but Sunderland outplayed us and Kevin Poole kept us in the game until they finally scored."

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