Hot prospect Joel Asoro may not be the immediate answer to Sunderland’s striker shortage, but David Moyes has hailed the exciting teenager’s progress.
The 17-year-old burst onto the scene this summer after impressing on the pre-season tours to France and Austria, with his searing pace, movement and eye for goal.
Asoro impressed Moyes and he has since started both EFL Cup victories over Shrewsbury Town and QPR, while he has made one sub appearance in the Premier League.
Moyes is wary of putting too much pressure on to the shoulders of the Sweden Under-21 international, despite the club’s striker shortage.
Jermain Defoe has already bagged four league goals, but, with Fabio Borini out for a further two months, Moyes only has Victor Anichebe – yet to start a game – and Duncan Watmore to call upon.
It has resulted in Asoro starting the EFL Cup games, with the teenager impressing alongside Watmore in the recent win over Championship side QPR.
Moyes believes that the exposure to competitive first-team action at such a tender age can only benefit him, and fellow promising forward, 17-year-old Josh Maja, who came on as a sub.
“With Jermain missing the recent QPR match, we had to put two boys in the squad,” said Moyes.
“But it was great though that those boys – Joel and Josh – have played at a Championship club away from home.
“Joel started, alongside Duncan Watmore up front, and Josh Maja came on in the second half and got some game time under his belt.
“For them, you hope that somewhere along the line, they will get the benefit.
“I think Joel produced an even better level from the Shrewsbury game – he was better again against QPR.
“They still need to make sure they can score, but I think they can cause problems with their movement.
“But, at 17, he is doing really well, the boy.”
Watmore is in line for an extended run in the Sunderland side after Adnan Januzaj was ruled out for six weeks with an ankle injury picked up against Crystal Palace last weekend.
The livewire forward came on after 15 minutes for the injured Steven Pienaar and is set to start against West Bromwich Albion tomorrow.
Winger Wahbi Khazri has been on the fringes of the first team this season, with Moyes not handing him a league start so far.
Injuries to Pienaar and Januzaj are likely to force his hand against the Baggies at the Stadium of Light (3pm kick-off), though, with the Tunisian in line for a recall alongside Watmore.
Moyes added: “I thought Duncan did a great job too [against QPR]. We can use him, even if he does come off the bench or if he starts.
“We know he has big energy and we need that.”