SUNDERLAND'S youngsters have produced the goods this season and have created atmosphere in the squad that Tom Flanagan admits he's revelling in. 

29-year-old Flanagan is playing with a flurry of youthful players around him in the heart of defence including the likes of 22-year-old goalkeeper Thorben Hoffmann, 18-year-old Callum Doyle and 19-year-old Dennis Cirkin.

Sunderland are flying high this season with just two defeats in League One so far this year. 

Following Saturday's win over Gillingham, where Flanagan netted the matchwinner in a 2-1 victory, the Black Cats will head to Crewe this evening for their latest league tie as they look to continue their march up the league table. 

Lee Johnson is expected to field a similar team to the one that started at Priesfield Stadium which including the teenage trio of Doyle, Cirkin and Dan Neil. 

While plenty of responsibility is being placed on young heads, Flanagan admits they're coping with the pressure and the squad is striking a good balance. 

"It’s a balance. You can go really young and still get walked all over at a place like this" Flanagan said. 

"We have a real good balance in regards to age. Footballers are getting fitter and more clever. Footballers will play for longer and they also start younger.

"I remember when I was 17 or 18 and looking for a loan move and everyone was saying that I was 10 years too young. Now, everyone is looking for an 18 year old. So it has gone full circle but I think it is really good for them to learn off us and we’re learning off them.

"They’re bringing something new. They are bringing energy and I think they liven the dressing room up which is really good."

However, there's one responsibility that the kids can't be in charge of just yet. 

Flanagan added: "They’re not in charge of music though, they have to earn the right."

Meanwhile, Sunderland are expected to be without a number of senior players for this evening's game at the Alexandra Stadium. 

Aiden McGeady, Lynden Gooch, Nathan Broadhead and Corry Evans are all struggling with respective injuries alongside Leon Dajaku who is recovering from a thigh problem. 

Elliot Embleton is suspended for tonight following his red card against Gillingham at the weekend.