David Moyes says Adnan Januzaj’s versatility gives him welcome options as tries to keep his squad competitive during an injury crisis.
Sunderland have nine first-team players in the physio room, while Wahbi Khazri, Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong have all departed for the African Cup of Nations in Gabon, potentially not returning until early February.
He can play 7,10, 11. I actually think he’s a good striker as well.
Januzaj was one of many Sunderland players to struggle with injuries and form early in the season but the prodigiously talented Belgian impressed in an unfamilar role against Liverpool.
Moyes has said he will be unafraid to use him up front again: “I think Adnan can play all [across the front]. He can play 7,10, 11. I actually think he’s a good striker as well, and so we played him in behind [against Liverpool].”
Januzaj’s creative talents went some way to easing the blow of losing striker Victor Anichebe to a hamstring injury during the 4-1 defeat at Turf Moor on New Year’s Eve.
It was the 21-year-old’s smart pass that released Ndong in the Liverpool area for Sunderland’s first penalty of the game, and Jermain Defoe should have converted a delightful through ball just minutes later.
It was a display that will have impressed his manager, who feels that performances all over the pitch are starting to improve.
The Turf Moor debacle drew stinging critcism from the 53-year-old but on the whole the Black Cats’ form has been steadily improving, culminating in the highly encouraging 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
Moyes said: ““There is an improvement and it will improve again as we go on.
“I have no doubt about that, we will go through peaks and troughs at times but the job now is to build on the four good wins we have had recently, two or three good performances.
“We have had the odd bad one [at Swansea and Burnley] but in the main if we can build on what we are doing and build on this level it will give us a great chance of staying up.
“The big thing is we want to see the performances improve and the players playing better in games as well.”
“You have seen Jordan Pickford, the likes of Papy improving, Victor too.
“There have been some players who have shown a big improvement in recent weeks and months.”