Josh Maja hails Chris Coleman for delivering on his Sunderland promise
Sunderland striker Josh Maja has hailed Chris Coleman for delivering on his promise to give youngsters first team opportunities.
Maja made his league debut against Fulham last weekend and scored within five minutes, becoming the latest academy graduate to impress under the new manager.
Joel Asoro, Lynden Gooch and George Honeyman have all had significant game time under Coleman, with Donald Love also starting the last two games.
Coleman has had a raft of injuries and suspensions to contend with, but he has also shown faith in his youngsters at crucial times in games.
It has been a big boost for Maja and his team-mates, who hope to repay that faith in the coming weeks.
Maja said: “It doesn’t always happen [playing youngsters], but Chris believes in us and gives us the opportunities.
“We have to take it, but, no matter what, he gives us the chance and it is so good to be able to take it.
“He’s got more belief in each and every single one of the players, he’s helped us loads on the training pitch and off the pitch especially to give us that confidence.
“Hopefully we can repay that in the future.”
Maja was disappointed to miss the start of the season after making such a big impression on then manager Simon Grayson, but is confident he can bounce back from that knee problem and so the same under Coleman.
He said: “It’s part of the game, isn’t it [managers leaving]. You’ve got to keep proving yourself over and over again and I’m happy to make a start doing it.
“I worked hard in pre-season to bulk up and get fit. I was able to show what I can do and hopefully I can push on.
“It was a difficult couple of months, with a few setbacks, but it is fine now and I’m ready to kick on.”