David Moyes is hoping that Darron Gibson can help boost Sunderland’s goal tally as he builds towards full match fitness.
Gibson completed 81 minutes on his full debut in the 4-0 defeat to Southampton at the weekend, replaced by Wahbi Khazri as the Black Cats boss threw bodies forward in the hope of an unlikely comeback.
I don’t always want him just sitting, I want him to try and get up near the edge of the box when he can to take on the shooting opportunities as well
The Irish midfielder could not make a defining contribution to the game but looked ready for Premier League action, following on from his cameo at Selhurst Park the previous week.
With just two senior appearances to his name this season, one of those in the much derided Checkatrade trophy, there had been concerns as to the 29-year-old’s match fitness.
He has allayed those fears somewhat in recent weeks and now Moyes wants him to help improve the team’s goal threat.
Gibson built up something of a reputation at Manchester United for his long-distance shooting, though he has scored just 13 career goals at club level. He came close to a goal on debut, his effort from the edge of the area flashing just wide of Wayne Hennessey’s post.
Moyes is hoping he can improve that and help take some of the burden off Jermain Defoe.
It echoes the call of Gabon midfielder Didier Ndong, who has determined to back up his Selhurst Park strike with more goals between now and the end of the season.
Moyes said: “The big thing about Darron as well is he can score from distance, he can shoot.
“I don’t always want him just sitting, I want him to try and get up near the edge of the box when he can to take on the shooting opportunities as well.”
Gibson’s arrival came at an important time for Sunderland, with both Jack Rodwell and Jan Kirchhoff out with hamstring injuries.
Kirchhoff has proven himself to be one of the best passers in the Black Cats squad and in his absence Moyes had called on Rodwell to ‘take responsibility’ in games and be the driving force in midfield.
He had shown improvement but suffered another setback at Selhurst Park.
That injury is not thought to be as bad as first feared and Rodwell could return for the trip to Goodison Park next weekend, but if not the Sunderland boss that Gibson can help the void.
He said: “He’s someone who can make the passes, keep the game moving on the ball and do the right things most of the time. That’s what we want.”