Ex-Man Utd team-mate backs Januzaj to shine for Sunderland
Adnan Januzaj could be about to show his quality in the Premier League with Sunderland.
That is the hope of team-mate and former Manchester United colleague Donald Love as the season enters a critical stage.
Love, Paddy McNair and Januzaj all joined the Black Cats from Old Trafford in the summer, the latter on a season-long loan.
Januzaj has shown only flashes of his pace and ability, though his season was interrupted by an ankle injury which kept him out for three games following the defeat to Crystal Palace.
The 21-year-old has been in the squad for the last four games but has been restricted to two sub outings, the 4-1 defeat to Arsenal and the 2-0 battling defeat at Liverpool, when the side have been chasing the game.
Handed a run-out for Sunderland U23 on Monday night, the Belgian showed a glimpse of what he can do with a blistering run and cool finish against Tottenham.
“I know what he can do anyway because I’ve played with him at United,” said Love.
“He’s trying to show everyone up here what he can do and hopefully he shows it in the first team.”
Love was behind him deep in his own half when he took off from Josh Maja’s clearance, holding off two pursuers before a precise left-foot shot.
“I didn’t know he was that quick and then it was a great finish,” said Love.
Januzaj has made five starts but it would be fair to say he has yet to catch fire.
He may find his way into the starting XI blocked by Duncan Watmore who is in good form.
But he has certainly given boss David Moyes a nudge with his goal on Monday evening ahead of Saturday’s home match with Leicester City.
Love hopes too to have impressed the watching manager with a smooth display in the middle of the park.
The 21-year-old started the season at right-back, playing the opening two Premier League games, but his opportunities since have been restricted.
He has been in the squad a further 10 times, all on the bench, coming on three times.
“I needed the game [on Monday], I’d not played in a while,” he said,
“I was just looking to play well to impress the manager, you want to get into the team, don’t you?
“I want to stay in and around the first team and play some games.
“You never know when you might get put in, so hopefully I can keep ticking over and be ready when a chance comes.
“It’s not easy sometimes coming in [to play for the U23s] but it’s part of the job and you try the best you can, because you want to play games.”
Love had sympathy for Lynden Gooch, who was injured against Spurs, damaging his ankle after landing awkwardly.
The USA international’s misfortune adds to a long list of midfield absentees, with Lee Cattermole, Jack Rodwell and McNair all out, though Jan Kirchhoff and Seb Larsson are on the way back.
“It looked a bad one but hopefully he’s all right,” said Love.
“I’m gutted for him, it probably he means he won’t be involved Saturday but hopefully he’ll be back soon.”