PATRICK van Aanholt is reaping the rewards from one-on-one tuition sessions with Sunderland number two Mauricio Taricco.
Van Aanholt has been an ever-present for Sunderland in the Premier League since arriving in a £1.5million summer deal from Chelsea and has impressed, particularly considering his only previous experience of the English top flight was during two substitute appearances under ex-Stamford Bridge boss Carlo Ancelotti.
But the 24-year-old has been given a helping hand by Sunderland assistant, and ex-Spurs and Ipswich full-back Taricco, to help him adapt to the demands of the Premier League after spending the last two-and-a-half seasons on loan in Holland.
Taricco has been working on the training field with both of Sunderland’s new full-backs – Billy Jones and van Aanholt – but particularly the latter, to bring him up to speed with the Black Cats’ defensive blueprint.
“I have been working individually on what I am trying to do,” said van Aanholt.
“Every training session I am working hard on trying to improve.
“Tanno (Tarico) has been working hard with me. It’s nice to have someone who wants me to learn and tries to teach me. I like it.
“I’ve played seven games now and I’ve improved and I’m still improving every day.
“I’m very happy now to have played a few games and to have done pretty well. I am ready to move on.
“I think we are playing some very good football but like I say, it is about yourself.
“I have always believed in myself and always believed in my quality. I am not too worried about myself, I think I will be able to cope.”
Van Aanholt’s performances for Sunderland have not been sufficient for the left-back to earn a recall to the Holland squad under new boss Guus Hiddink after winning two caps under predecessor Louis van Gaal.
But van Aanholt is not dwelling on his international prospects; stressing that his form in a Sunderland shirt should dictate whether he wins a place in Hiddink’s plans.
“Of course, I want to play for my country,” he added.
“But I’m not worried about that.
“I’ve just signed for Sunderland and if I do well here, it means I’m doing very good if I get called up.
“If I don’t get called up, it means I have to work a bit harder, and that’s what I’m trying to do in training and in games.”