Victor Anichebe is enjoying his football again as he embraces his new role in the Sunderland team.
The 28-year-old has helped transform Sunderland’s attacking threat since bursting into the side, but David Moyes has recently tasked him with also carrying out more defensive duties.
It’s a challenge the fan favourite has embraced ahead of third-bottom Sunderland continuing their battle against the drop at Manchester United on Boxing Day.
“It is enjoyable, the challenge,” Anichebe revealed.
“Over the past few weeks, I have been asked to do more defensive duties, teams have been doubling up and letting their full-backs bomb forward to try and take me back instead of staying forward.
“It is something that I am adapting to.
“It is great for me because it is great to learn when to go, when to stay.
“The gaffer is trying to teach me more and more that I have to do a lot more for the team but also try and take the team forward as well.
“It is great learning experience and I am just really enjoying playing football.”
Anichebe, enjoying playing regularly after a frustrating final season at West Bromwich Albion where he made only 10 league appearances, has been deployed in a wide left attacking role, supporting Jermain Defoe.
“I didn’t play as much last year at West Brom as I would have liked,” added Anichebe.
“The Sunderland fans have taken to me – I am enjoying being out there every week.
“They sing my name and I am playing well right now.
“Hopefully that can continue and I can stay fit and the good performances continue,” added the Nigerian powerhouse, who has contributed three goals in nine games.
Anichebe has never been the most prolific of strikers, but he can give defenders plenty of problems with his physicality – something he has proved with a string of man-of-the-match displays during the recent run of four wins from seven Premier League matches.
Sunderland have been dealt a series of injury blows in recent weeks, just when it appeared they had turned a corner.
Paddy McNair and Duncan Watmore are out for the season with knee injuries, Lynden Gooch is facing several weeks out with ankle ligament damage while Lee Cattermole and Jan Kirchhoff are also out for lengthy spells.
The return of Fabio Borini to the fold has been a welcome boost, with the Italian forward taking the place of Watmore in the side.
Anichebe missed the recent Chelsea game with a thigh injury but returned for last weekend’s win over Watford, producing another powerful display.
“Whoever comes into the team will do a job,” added the 6ft 3in forward.
“Fabio has come in and given us the energy. Losing Duncan was a big blow, but Fabio is a machine and will run all day.
“Me, I will try and play as many games as possible.”