Jack Ross says Josh Maja will get even better as the season goes on after the young striker’s blistering start to the season.
Maja became the first Sunderland striker to score in the opening three league games of the season since Kevin Phillips in 1998 after his goal against Scunthorpe United on Sunday.
With Charlie Wyke and Jerome Sinclair injured, the 19-year-old has been forced to lead the line but has responded in style, grabbing his opportunity with both hands.
Three goals already this season have shown what a big impact the youngster can have, and ahead of the trip to Gillingham, Ross has warned League One defences that there is more to come.
The Sunderland manager said: “ I think strikers are naturally judged on goals, so for him to score three goals in three consecutive league games is terrific for him.
“I tried to find out as much as I could about all the players before I came, but you don’t really get a feel for them properly until you work with them day in, day out.
“Josh has got a lot of really good attributes that we just need to encourage him to use and adds the bits that are missing from his game.
“But what he’s done so far, and the responsibility he’s had to take on in that period because of the injuries and limited options we’ve had in attacking areas, has been big. And he’s handled that, which is really impressive to me.
“Sometimes, as young players, those opportunities open up when you don’t expect them.
“I’m not saying he wouldn’t have had those opportunities, but circumstances have meant that he’s been very much thrown into the spotlight in that sense and he’s been fantastic.
“I see no reason why that won’t continue throughout the season because he isn’t all of a sudden going to become a lesser player than he is at the moment, in fact I would say the opposite.
“I think he’ll get better as the season goes on.”