Jack Ross reacts as Josh Maja continues to make a big impression leading Sunderland's line
Jack Ross says Josh Maja will be a better player for the unfamiliar challenge he continues to take on for the Black Cats.
Maja again led the line at Kenilworth Road and added his second goal in two league games this season.
Ross is eager to get him playing alongside another forward and he certainly benefited from the presence of Jerome Sinclair in the second half last weekend.
The Black Cats boss, however, believes Maja can thrive in the role as Sinclair and Charlie Wyke recover from injury.
“It’s been great for him because it’s been a different challenge for him being the main focal point if you like, rather than being the one that plays around somebody,” he said.
“It’s great experience for him.
“I think his future will always be as one who can hopefully do both but hopefully the one he does more is his natural one.
“The good thing is he’s getting the rewards because when you ask somebody to do something and they don’t get the rewards they probably find it difficult to believe in it.
“The fact he’s scored two goals in two games when we were asking him to do that more and more is encouraging.
“We speak long and hard about it as a staff and I always believed he could do that (No.9 role), it was just encouraging him to do it and making him believe he would get his rewards,” he added.
“There’s an unselfish part of that [role] as well. You do it and you create space for others.”
Ross also hailed the 19-year-old’s attitude and expects him to play a big part right through the 46-game campaign.
“He’s only a young man but he’s a really good type as well,” he said.
“He’s a lovely lad and he’s willing to learn. He engages with us a lot as a staff.
“I’m pleased for him that he got his rewards.
“Probably the most encouraging thing for me is that he’s now somebody who’s going to be an asset to me over the course of the whole season.”