David Moyes is encouraged by Adnan Januzaj’s running in a Sunderland shirt, even if the Black Cats boss is harder than anyone on the 21-year-old.
The Belgian has faced criticism at times this season for his work-rate but his manager says that side of his game is good for someone playing in what is essentially a centre-forward berth.
Although he and his fellow forwards faded in the disappointing defeat to Southampton, a superb display at Selhurst Park raised hopes that Januzaj could have a big part to play in Sunderland’s latest attempt at a great escape.
With Victor Anichebe out for the foreseeable future, Januzaj will keep his place alongside Jermain Defoe and Moyes wants him to take the running burden off the 34-year-old
Moyes said: “He’s got a talent he has to show more of.
“His body language at times makes you think he’s not working hard enough but it’s not that.
“His running has been excellent and his effort for the team has been excellent for the team as a front player.
“He’s a young boy, he should be doing that. He should do Jermain’s running for him and let Jermain do the finishing.
“I’m probably harder than Adnan than anyone but he knows I’m only doing it for his own good. He’s a good lad that way.
“He probably gets more criticism from anybody than me because I think he’s capable of more.”
Januzaj has played in a number of positions this season, making his first appearances in the red and white jersey off the right wing.
In recent weeks, however, he has covered Anichebe’s injury by playing alongside Defoe and while he has struggled for consistency, there have been some excellent moments between the pair.
At Selhurst Park there were two excellent through balls leading to the veteran’s two goals on the stroke of half-time, while the home win against Watford featured a fine assist from the Manchester United loanee.
Moyes says he will continue to try and get Januzaj involved in the central positions where he feels he can do the most damage.
He said: “We’ve tried to play him centrally. At Watford he turned and made the goal when Jermain went out wide and Pat van Aanholt scored the goal.
“We’ve tried to get him playing more centrally because he can link us up and he’s comfortable at getting between people and between the lines and getting us space.
“He’s good in one-v-one situations and at Palace he showed he’s capable of making goals and creating chances for people to score.
“This is what I’ve always hoped he would do. He can score and he will score, but I want him to be a creator of goals as well and Palace was a big sign that he can help Jermain to get into the right positions to score.