Chris Coleman has praised the work ethic of winger Callum McManaman after an “unlucky” start to his Sunderland career.
The deadline day signing penned a two-year deal when he swapped the Hawthorns for the Stadium of Light.
But the 26-year-old wideman has struggled for form, consistency and a regular starting place since arriving in the North East.
With Coleman down to the bare bones after a raft of injuries, McManaman has started the last two games, the 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest and defeat by the same margin to Barnsley on New Year’s Day.
The winger will be hoping for a hat-trick of starts on Saturday when the Black Cats face Middlesbrough at the Riverside in the FA Cup third round.
Coleman believes McManaman, who saw red in the defeat to Reading in Coleman’s first home game in charge, can count himself unlucky since joing Sunderland with a number of issues going against him.
One factor was when Coleman switched formation, opting to play wing-backs instead of traditional wingers, a decision which left McManaman and Aiden McGeady benchwarming for a few games before being drafted back in.
The ex-Wales boss has heaped praise on his attitude, the Scouser impressing with his work rate on the training pitches at the Academy of Light.
“I think Callum missed pre-season and it is always tough for players when they do that, always playing catch-up,” said Coleman.
“He got sent off against Reading, then I changed formation to go with wing backs rather than wingers.
“So he has suffered really. He has worked his socks off in training, he really has. He hasn’t been a moment’s problem. He has worked really hard.
“He has been unlucky to be fair, you are always playing catch-up after missing pre-season and he has had a suspension too when we changed formation.”