Liverpool youngster on life in the Championship, Sunderland and Chris Coleman
With Jonny Williams out for a month, Ovie Ejaria will be handed significant creative responsibility in the Sunderland team.
The Liverpool loanee is one of a cohort of young players tasked with the daunting prospect of trying to revive a season that is fast flatlining for boss Chris Coleman.
So far it has been tough going, with Ejaria and the Black Cats’ other January signings searching for their best form.
The 20-year-old midfielder came close to opening up QPR on a couple of occasions last weekend, but just lacked the killer final touch.
The pressure is immense on Sunderland, bottom of the Championship with nine games to go, but, for Ejaria, it is why he and Liverpool were so keen on the move.
To be thrown in at the deep end and play for a manager happy to gamble on youth was the perfect next step in his career.
“I spoke to (Wales international and Liverpool club-mate) Ben Woodburn a little bit. Obviously I saw what Chris Coleman had done with him at Wales,” he said.
“That made it clear that he is willing to give young players an opportunity.
“There were other lads as well that were getting chances for Wales – that was a big factor.
“The main for thing for me was that I wanted to experience and play first-team football.
“I spoke with my Dad obviously about the decision and the manager [Jurgen Klopp] too. That was about three weeks before the move, just about what would be happening. There were other options, but it was about gametime.
“Liverpool said this would be the best opportunity and. when you look at the size of the club, regardless of the position. it really isn’t hard to say ‘yes’.”
Ejaria has been playing through a thigh injury since arriving on Wearside, but his fitness is improving and, with Coleman short of midfield options, the 20-year-old will be key.
The Liverpool youngster admits he has had to adapt to the pace of the Championship, but feels he is ready to try to help the club build some momentum.
He said: “It is so physical and so quick. In Under-23s football, you get a lot more time on the ball.
“When it comes to international football, it can be a bit more technical. In this league, it is frantic.
“I’m enjoying it and I really do think I’ll be better for it.
“I think I’m getting used to the pace of the league, but there’s no doubt I can do better.
“All I can do is put in the hard work during training and hope that I can show my best when it comes to the games.
“Obviously being injured was tough. You want to come and play and show everyone what you can do, but you just try to use that time off the pitch to get stronger.
“The results aren’t going for us at the moment, but we all we can do is just keep working hard, get the results and sees what happens from there.
“People are working hard, but you just need that result, something that can give you that momentum to take into the next game and then the one after that.
“You have to stay positive.The manager has been a big part of trying to achieve that.”