Tony Mowbray makes Jack Clarke prediction - and sets challenge for his Sunderland team mate
Sunderland boss Tony Mowbray believes Jack Clarke can maintain his excellent goalscoring form
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Tony Mowbray says he expects Jack Clarke to maintain his impressive goalscoring form and has challenged Patrick Roberts to follow his fellow winger's lead and become more ruthless with his own finishing.
Clarke scored his ninth goal of the campaign in the 3-1 win over Norwich City last Saturday, while also registering an assist for Dan Neil's strike. The winger is currently the Championship's top scorer and though his tally has been bolstered by taking over the club's penalty duties, he has won three of the four himself.
Roberts registered his first assist of the campaign in the Norwich win by teeing up Trai Hume for the crucial equaliser, and Mowbray wants to see him increasing his output in the weeks and months ahead. Clarke's excellent form has gone some way to allaying Mowbray's concerns that the departures of Amad and Ross Stewart would slow his team's impressive goalscoring output, but the head coach knows he needs more from elsewhere.
No Sunderland striker has scored a goal this season, something that Mowbray wants to change in the near future. Mowbray admitted after the Norwich win that Clarke's output this season had taken him by surprise, but believes there is no reason why it won't now continue as the season progresses.
"I love Patrick Roberts and I almost want him and Jack to compete," Mowbray said.
"I'm saying to Patrick, why can't you be scoring and assisting as many?
"Jack takes penalties, of course, but I want to see Patrick sticking it in the back of the net as well. I couldn't sit here and say Jack is more talented than Patrick. He needs to be getting into the box and scoring more, being more selfish with his finishing and hopefully we keep those goals coming from both sides of the pitch.
"And then when the centre forwards catch fire, we can get towards that 70 goals that we're going to need to have a successful season. If we can keep playing like we are at the moment... really positive and on the front foot, having a lot of attacking moments in games, I think Jack will keep scoring.
"What you'd also say about him is that he is absolutely devastating when we're having to defend and he can break away, because he has a huge aerobic capacity to keep running. He was playing wing back before I got here because he can run all day and he can run fast all day, which is a huge attribute for any footballer. I don't see him falling away, I think he'll keep scoring and hurting teams. He is mixing his game up a lot more these days, going down the outside as well as cutting in, and cutting the ball back on his left foot.
"He has to stay positive, I hope he's enjoying his football and hopefully the club does everything they can to keep him here and have a successful season."
Roberts has increased competition for his place this season, after Abdoullah Ba's strong form while the winger was out with a hamstring injury earlier this season.