Jermain Defoe on teenage duo Joel Asoro and Josh Maja and why he always knew they'd breakthrough at Sunderland

Jermain Defoe admits he isn't surprised by the rise of Josh Maja and Joel Asoro after being impressed by the teenage duo in their first training session.

Thursday, 25th January 2018, 5:02 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th January 2018, 5:05 pm
Josh Maja scores the winner against Fulham.

Defoe, who left Sunderland for AFC Bournemouth in the summer, has praised 19-year-old Maja and Asoro, 18, for their impact this season.

Sunderland boss Chris Coleman is currently relying on the teenagers after Lewis Grabban and James Vaughan left the club this month.

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Defoe took the pair under his wing during his time at Sunderland and he is pleased to see them taking advantage of their first team chance.

Maja scored the winner against Fulham recently, while Asoro scored the winner in the 1-0 win over Hull City last weekend.

Defoe told the club website: "I remember playing with them both for the first time when we went to France for pre-season.

"It only takes me five minutes in training to work out a player and I thought 'yeah, these boys have got a bit and they can play'.

Joel Asoro celebrates his goal against Hull City.

"They really impressed me and I thought they are going to be the future of the club, so I wanted them to go on and do big things and hopefully any advice I gave them helped.

"I’m not surprised to see them doing what they’re doing because at some point I thought they would get an opportunity, and, if they were given a run of games, that they would do well.

"Like I said, they impressed me when they trained with the first team so it was only a matter of time before they would be involved, but the current situation isn’t easy and they are still very young, so the fact they’re performing is a credit to them.

"There are big shoes to fill at that football club when it comes to scoring goals, but when you’re a young forward and you see a goalscorer or a striker leave, you’re rubbing your hands with glee, so in a funny sort of way they’ll have been buzzing to see players depart.

Joel Asoro celebrates his goal against Hull City.

"This is there time to stake their claim and be selfish.

"When you’re young there’s a lot of pressure at any club, but I speak to the lads at Bournemouth and tell them about the Stadium of Light and why it’s such an amazing place to play football.

"For a young lad to come off the bench and score a winner - after people have waited that long for a win - is special, and Josh will never forget that moment no matter what he goes on to do."