Sunderland v West Brom: Black Cats boss looks for Wahbi Khazri to provide the spark
David Moyes is relying on Wahbi Khazri to provide Sunderland's creative spark after Adnan Januzaj was ruled out for six weeks.
The 25-year-old is yet to start a Premier League game under David Moyes this season.
But the Tunisian winger has a chance to re-establish himself in the Sunderland starting line-up after the Black Cats were dealt another injury blow.
Januzaj, Steven Pienaar (hamstring) and Lee Cattermole (back) all started against Crystal Palace but now face a spell on the sidelines, leaving the door open for a return for Khazri.
Khazri was a key player under Sam Allardyce but has fallen out of favour under the Scot.
He now has a chance to help kick-start Sunderland’s Premier League campaign, with the Black Cats bottom of the table ahead of today’s visit of West Bromwich Albion.
“Wahbi is definitely in my thinking,” Moyes said.
“With us losing Pienaar and Januzaj to injury, they are our most creative players.
“It becomes a problem for us because we don’t have a great deal of creativity – it is finding that way to score a goal.
“Steven has done OK since arriving this summer, Adnan has probably looked the most like making something happen.
“Wahbi will come in and he will play against West Brom.”
There were question marks over Khazri’s fitness levels when he returned for pre-season training.
But Moyes says he is now in better shape.
Moyes added: “The biggest thing for me is that I expected him to keep ball better. Even in the pre-season games, he gave it away too often.
“I see him in the team to be that type of player, but we need him to be more reliable when he gets the ball.”
One of the key weapons in Khazri’s arsenal is his pin-point delivery from set pieces.
So far this season, Sunderland’s delivery from corners and free-kicks has been dismal, with the players regularly failing to even beat the first man.
Moyes added: “The delivery has been terrible.
“We are racking our brains because they practice and the players can go out and do it every day on the training pitch.
“But when it comes to the big stage they can’t get the ball in the right areas or deliver it well enough.
“You can’t blame the centre-forwards or the centre-backs for not scoring if they don’t get the right delivery from set pieces.”
Cattermole will have an epidural injection next week in a bid to cure his long-standing back problem, which is causing pain in his legs.
Meanwhile, Victor Anichebe injured his groin against Palace.
Moyes added: “Januzaj got a bad injury in the game last week against Palace, Steven came off with a hamstring problem.
“Lee Cattermole has had neuro pain in his legs and will have an injection.
“He has said he has never felt comfortable with it for a long time.
“He felt it when he came off the other day and hasn’t trained and he has seen a specialist.
“Victor has a groin problem. You tend to find more injuries happen at clubs that are not doing so well.
“We have to get on with it.”