Summer signing Steven Pienaar is one of the elder statesmen at Sunderland – and he is looking to pass on his experience to the club’s youngsters.
David Moyes has given youth a chance in his opening three games in charge at the Stadium of Light.
Donald Love, Lynden Gooch, Paddy McNair, Duncan Watmore and Joel Asoro have all been handed starts, with England Under-21 goalkeeper Jordan Pickford set for an extended run in the side too after Vito Mannone’s elbow injury.
Pienaar, who worked under Moyes at Everton, is enjoying the added responsibility of being one of the senior players and the 34-year-old believes the first league win isn’t far away.
Sunderland travel to Southampton tomorrow after back-to-back Premier League defeats to Manchester City and Middlesbrough.
“To come into so many young players you are thinking ‘wow’,” said Pienaar, who has signed a one-year deal.
“It is good for me, though, I can pass on my experience and tell them to be calm, in the circumstances we have only lost two games.
“Keep your head, keep going, keep putting a shift in and the hard work will pay off.
“For them, it is a good opportunity and they are doing quite well.
“We have a lot of experienced players out at the moment, so for them to get this opportunity they can only get better.”
The former Ajax star added: “The manager has given a lot of young players an opportunity to play, the manager believes in the young players.
“It is a good opportunity for them, they have to believe and know the win is not far away.”
The South African, who joined Sunderland after a successful trial, came on as a first-half sub against Boro and then started the second round EFL Cup win over Shrewsbury Town.
He admits he didn’t expect to be thrown in quite so soon given his lack of games over pre-season but injuries have forced Moyes’ hand.
“I didn’t expect it to happen so quick but I have been working hard to get up to speed,” added Pienaar.
“For me to come on in the derby, it is always good to get a feel of the club, the supporters and the stadium,.
“I enjoyed every minute of it, but it wasn’t a great result for us.
“It was a good feeling.”
Pienaar made almost 200 appearances for the Toffees over two spells and he is enjoying working with Moyes again.
“I have worked with him for so many years and I am grateful he has given me this opportunity,” added Pienaar.
“I was back home, keeping fit, training with the guys in Amsterdam and my agent phoned me up and said ‘do you fancy training with Sunderland for a few weeks?’
“I said, ‘yeah, why not’.
“I was out of contract so for me to train with a club in a professional environment was great.
“He wanted to see how fit I was too, as I hadn’t played many games the last two years.
“To work with him again is good, it is always good to work under someone you have known so long.”