Youngster Joel Asoro in David Moyes' thoughts, despite Sunderland striker search

Joel Asoro will continue to train with Sunderland's first-team squad after the 17-year-old's pre-season impact understandably impressed David Moyes.
Joel AsoroJoel Asoro
Joel Asoro

Sunderland still face a striker headache for Friday night’s final pre-season friendly against Borussia Dortmund, even though Jermain Defoe is making swift progress in his recovery from a thigh injury.

Defoe is due to resume running again this week after suffering the problem on the training ground in France last week, yet the Dortmund game is likely to come too soon for the 33-year-old.

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Moyes hopes to have made a transfer breakthrough by then, although there is no guarantee that it will be a new frontman, with Sam Allardyce’s main striker target, Diafra Sakho, now on the verge of joining West Brom after agreeing personal terms with the Baggies.

Joint pre-season top scorer Fabio Borini is due to lead the line against Dortmund, but teenager Asoro will also be in the squad which travels to Austria for the encounter.

Asoro grabbed a goal and an assist in last week’s 3-2 win against Dijon, and Moyes admits that the pacy Swedish frontman is now in his thinking for competitive involvement.

Moyes said: “The young centre-forward – Joel – played really well.

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“Based on his performances, he will be training with the first-team squad because he deserves that.

“Sometimes you can blow these kids up too quickly and that does happen, but he is one that you have to say is close and there are one or two others who have done well.

“We will have to see where they fit into the whole scheme of things, but, as it stands just now, they might have to play in big games, then it is up to them to show that they can do that.”

Moyes inherited a squad with just 16 senior players at his disposal and his paper-thin options have been further depleted by injuries to Defoe, Jack Rodwell, Patrick van Aanholt and, most worryingly, Jan Kirchhoff.

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That has made Sunderland’s transfer business even more pressing, but Moyes is not afraid to turn to the club’s promising youngsters this season.

The ex-Everton and Manchester United boss has a record of giving academy products an opportunity at a young age, rather than shying away from those prospects.

He added: “I’ve given five or six players their debuts at 16 in the Premier League.

“If the opportunities come around, I’ll have no fears in putting them in.

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“I’ve always looked to the youngsters if we can, if they are pushing me.

“I keep saying that they have to be in my face and showing me that this is a player.”