Jeremain Lens addresses Sunderland exit speculation
Jeremain Lens has brushed off the prospect of leaving Sunderland in the January transfer window after regaining his place in the starting XI.
Lens’ status at the Stadium of Light looked in severe jeopardy at the start of the month after the Dutch international found himself limited to a substitute’s role under Sam Allardyce, despite Sunderland shelling out an initial £8million to bring him to Wearside last summer.
The 28-year-old – left out for disciplinary reasons at Chelsea last month – was linked with a move to Roma and Ajax, amid concerns over his inability to deal with the work-rate demands of the Premier League.
But Lens has started Sunderland’s last three games and, although Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Spurs was the least impressive of his performances, the winger is glad to be back in the fold, even if it’s in a slightly unfamiliar “number 10” role.
Lens told the Echo: “I never spoke about leaving. It’s the media and all the things around me.
“We will see what happens. I’m a Sunderland player and I’m focused on Sunderland.
“I’m happy that I’m playing, but I wasn’t with the result at Spurs.
“Let’s hope I’m playing in the next game and we can get a good result.
“It’s not my original position, but, if I can help the team from there, I will play and try to do my best.
“I think, in general, I was already adapting to the Premier League, but there was a misunderstanding between me and the manager!
“That’s in the past now and we need to go forward. I’m playing now and I’m happy.”
Defeat at Spurs ended Sunderland’s winning streak, with Sam Allardyce’s men now three points adrift of the safety mark after victory for fellow strugglers Newcastle.
Sunderland performed well for an hour at White Hart Lane – albeit they allowed Spurs to equalise within two minutes of Patrick van Aanholt’s opener – yet following Allardyce’s change of system, the Black Cats folded in the second half.
“I think up to the first Spurs goal, we’d defended well and not given many chances away,” said Lens.
“And then they scored, and we weren’t even able to enjoy our goal.
“That needs to be much better.
“And then, okay, second-half, we tried to defend like we did in the first half.
“But they scored a goal and then we needed to do much better.
“We needed to stay compact as a team and make it more difficult for Tottenham.
“But we opened up the game and it was not that difficult for them to score the second and third goals.”
Lens believes fatigue was a factor for Sunderland though, after the Black Cats faced their third away game in the space of eight days.
Allardyce’s men now have a week to recover before another huge encounter against one of their relegation rivals, Bournemouth, this Saturday.
“I can speak for myself and I was very tired after 70 minutes, and I think maybe some of the other players were as well,” he added.
“But, in such big games, you need to be cleverer.
“We know that we need to keep winning games.
“We need to forget about the Tottenham game and think about the next one against Bournemouth.”