After getting off to an agonizingly slow start to the season, things finally seem to be looking up for David Moyes and Sunderland.
Though one player who performed remarkably well in that 3-0 win over Hull but seems to be somewhat unnoticed is Jason Denayer. The Manchester City loanee has underperformed during his loan spell at Sunderland but the Belgian excelled in the holding midfield role on Saturday.
Denayer replaced the suspended Steven Pienaar and Moyes was impressed with what he saw. He said: “We have been waiting to see what Jason can do. He has been a little bit of a slow burner to start with."
The Scot continued, “I have seen little signs of things from him. I thought he played well against Notts County in midfield too [in the Checkatrade Trophy], we knew he could play full-back, centre-back and middle of the pitch.”
The central midfield role seems to be the most fought for position at the Stadium of Light but a number of injuries along with Pienaar’s suspension opened the door for Denayer.
“We have a [big] group of central midfield players, if you think of Jan Kirchhoff, Lee Cattermole, Jack Rodwell and Didier Ndong," he said. “But suddenly there have been three out injured and we lose Steven Pienaar to suspension. So, we suddenly found ourselves short in those areas than we had been at other times.”
Denayer had only played for Sunderland in defence prior to Saturday yet he had a significant impact playing in front of the back four, getting forward when needed and showing some clever footwork.
Moyes continued: “I thought Jason did quite well, not always noticeably. But he’s very quick and I thought he recovered things and got back with opponents. We’ve been needing a bit of speed.”
However, Moyes may lose his newfound holding midfielder after Denayer as forced off in the latter stages of the game. He explained: “He just felt his hamstring at the end so I’ve just got to hope he’s OK.”
Though Jan Kirchhoff is available again as is Seb Larsson after the duo both got through Sunderland’s U23 away win at Manchester United, unscathed. Pienaar is also back from suspension.