Mentor Jermain Defoe has this message of encouragement for Sunderland star Josh Maja

Sunderland striker Josh Maja has received plenty of messages of congratulations after picking up the EFL young player of the month award, but few will have meant more than this one.

Wednesday, 19th September 2018, 6:47 pm
Updated Wednesday, 19th September 2018, 6:57 pm
Jermain Defoe has this message for Josh Maja

Maja has netted five times during Sunderland's opening ten outings and has put in a string of impressive performances when playing as the lone striker.

Injuries left Jack Ross with limited attacking options and meant the youngster was thrust into first team action, but the 19-year-old has grasped his opportunity with both hands.

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And the Sunderland man was rewarded for his fine start to the season with recognition from the EFL in the shape of the young player of the month for August.

READ: Josh Maja scoops award - and has this message for Jack RossThere was little surprise that the award, which spans all three divisions, was handed to the Black Cats' up-and-coming star after he netted four times in four games during the first month of the new campaign as his talent shines through.

But one man who is well aware of Maja's talent is Jermain Defoe, who saw the striker's ability first hand during his time at the Stadium of Light.

MORE: D-Day approaching for Didier NdongEx-England international Defoe helped to nurture the likes of Maja and Joel Asoro when they were coming through the ranks on Wearside and has now offered a message of encouragement to the Sunderland youngster.

Replying to the announcement that Maja had been handed the award, Defoe tweeted: "Love that! Keep doing your thing @joshmaja..."

Sunderland fans were quick to appreciate Defoe's response - and will no doubt be hopeful that Maja can follow in Defoe's footsteps in leading the line for the Black Cats.