Sunderland forward reflects on struggles to get goals

Adnan Januzaj in action for Sunderland
Adnan Januzaj in action for Sunderland
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Adnan Januzaj is striving to add the goals Sunderland need to survive in the Premier League, but underlined the challenge he and Jermain Defoe have faced this season.

Defoe has 14 goals to his name but Victor Anichebe is the Black Cats’ second top scorer with just three.

Januzaj himself has scored only once this campaign, in the early-season 1-0 win over Shrewsbury in the EFL Cup.

The Belgian has often played alongside Defoe up front while Anichebe has been injured, but is still searching for his first league goal.

Januzaj said: “Of course (I’d like to score more), but people in the business they know how difficult it is.

“It is not easy, especially at this stage of the season.

“Jermain has scored most of the goals. It has not been easy for us. You have to create things and deliver for the others.

“It is not easy, most of the time you are defending and have to go counter-attack and go 30-40 yards with the ball - it is not always easy to do that.”

“It is hard. When you are in a team that sees more of the ballm then I’d be able to do more with the ball.

“Now we defend more. It is not easy because you have to counter-attack and when you do, you tend to have three or four players around you.

“Sometimes it is not easy to find that last pass. I am one of the dangerous players. My mindset here is to defend first and then attack.”

Januzaj has on occasions been able to offer that counter-attacking threat, able to release Defoe on a number of occasions.

Sunderland’s best performance of 2017 came at Selhurst Park when Januzaj twice found space on the break to tee up the 34-year-old.

Januzaj has faced soemthing of a culture shock this season, adjusting to a side who more often that not are pushed into their own half and don’t enjoy the lion’s share of possession.

He is building that area of his game and hopes to answer some of the many critics when his Manchester United career stagnated and a loan spell at Borussia Dortmund did not work out.

He said: “People watch what you can do off the ball as well as with it. If you play against big teams, I have played for Manchester United against teams near the bottom and you know they will come and defend.

“That is what we have done to the big teams. I have been learning the other part of the job. It has not been easy.

“It is also about your mental strength. You have to do more running and be stronger.

“I have always been strong mentally. I have people that have always pushed me and know what I can do - mental strength was never a problem.

“People were talking about me when I didn’t have much game time a year ago saying it was down to mentality. It wasn’t.

“I was not focused on that, I was focused on my football.”