Victor Anichebe has urged Sunderland not to become too predictable on his return to the attack.
Anichebe was a crucial part of the Black Cats side that recovered from a wretched start to the season, a promising run of form in late November and early December raising hopes of yet another great escape.
The signing of the Nigerian was met with bemusement initially but his hold-up play, not to mention his goals, gave Sunderland an important outlet.
Despite missing a large chunk of the season through injury, Anichebe has started four of Sunderland’s five league wins.
His return has not initiated an immediate return to form for his team, but against both Leicester City and Manchester United he came as close and any Black Cat to ending a goal drought that is now running at over 11 hours.
His presence is one of the few causes for optimism as the Black Cats as they struggle to beat the drop, but the target man has insisted they must ensure they still vary their play in his absence.
He said: “It’s difficult coming back, and we do play to me, a lot down my side, it’s good for me but sometimes I think, you can see me in the games, I’m saying, go down the other side, build up from different places. It’s important we do that, you see in games, Fellaini was just coming and standing on me, that’s what happens. We need to mix it up a bit, but I need to get games as well.”
The return of Lee Cattermole offers hope, the inspirational midfielder impressing in his two games back in the Black Cats side.
However, Anichebe has also pointed to the imminent return of South African midfielder Steven Pienaar as someone who can help him hit top form as he works his way back to full match fitness.
Anichebe said: “Lee Cattermole is coming back and I would like to see Steven Pienaar coming back, when we were doing well that time he was the one who would give me the ball, we linked up well, instead of the ball coming from 25 yards down to me, he’s the link between the full-back, just things like that. It’s the same thing over and over again, but I hope that we will improve and we will.”
Sunderland boss David Moyes revealed last week that Pienaar is back in full training, and he could well come into contention for the visit of West Ham United on Saturday after the FA rejected the appeal against Seb Larsson’s red card.
The Swede was sent off by Craig Pawson for seriosu foul play after a late challenge on Ander Herrera late in the first half, the Black Cats trailing 1-0 at the time.
Larsson will now miss the games against the Hammers as well the ties against Middlesbrough and Bournemouth.
An FA statement read: “An Independent Regulatory Commission has rejected a wrongful dismissal claim from Sunderland’s Sebastian Larsson.
“The midfielder was dismissed for serious foul play during the Black Cats’ Premier League fixture against Manchester United on 9 April 2017.
“Larsson’s three-match suspension remains in place.”