JEWISON BENNETTE has told Tony Mowbray he would currently rather play for Sunderland Under-21s than sit on the bench as an unused substitute with the first team.

Bennette, who is currently on international duty with Costa Rica Under-23s as they prepare for a two-legged CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final tie against Panama, has not featured in any of Sunderland’s last five senior squads.

However, during that time, he has made two appearances for the Black Cats’ Under-21s, featuring in a 4-2 home defeat to Tottenham and making a series of valuable contributions in a 2-1 win at Southampton.

Bennette accepts he is not currently in Mowbray’s thoughts for a senior starting spot, so to aid his development and ensure he remains match fit for Costa Rica, the 19-year-old winger has requested to continue playing for the Under-21s.

“Jewison is fine,” said Mowbray. “These squad issues are going to be around (as players return) and I have to make the decisions as to who is going to play and who isn’t.

“I've had a few conversations with Jewison. He wants to be playing football and he doesn’t want his international situation with Costa Rica to be disturbed too much.


“That’s why he’s been playing for the Under-21s, because if he sits on our bench and gets a few minutes... he might as well get 90 minutes with the Under-21s. These are the discussions I’ve had with him.”

Bennette’s senior involvement this season has been restricted to a starting appearance in August’s Carabao Cup defeat to Crewe and a brief substitute run-out in September’s league win over Southampton.

He finds himself challenging a host of fellow young forwards for a place in Sunderland’s senior matchday squad, with Mowbray impressed with his willingness to drop down to the Under-21s to keep himself active.

“I would never push him to go and play in the Under-21s,” added the Black Cats boss. “We have discussed it, and his attitude is that it is better to get 90 minutes on a Friday night than five minutes or no minutes the next day.

“That is a huge credit to him, and it is only going to stand him in good stead moving forward. At his age, he just needs to be playing football. That’s what the kid wants to do - so I would view it as a real positive. It says a lot about him, it’s positive.”