Sunderland's Premier League Player of the Month makes an impact and earns ex-skipper's praise
Sunderland prospect Rees Greenwood is progressing in making more of an impact with his unquestioned talent, believes Under-21 coach Andy Welsh.
Greenwood was crowned U21 Premier League Player of the Month prior to last night’s 3-2 win over Everton, yet the 20-year-old has been repeatedly challenged by Welsh over recent weeks to improve his end product.
But Greenwood had a hand in all three goals against the Toffees, including a superb counter-attack for Ola Toivonen’s match-winning second, which sent Sunderland back to the top of the league.
That prompted praise from ex-Sunderland skipper Michael Gray - at the Stadium of Light as part of BT Sport’s live coverage - who said he was “very impressed” by Greenwood.
“We’ve been working on his end product for weeks and I think he showed a much better final pass,” said Welsh after the game.
“Jordan (Pickford) hit a great volley into him, and his first touch took him inside before he slipped Ola in.
“Over the season, we’ve been very good at not letting many goals in, but last night we looked like we could have conceded more.
“However, we hit the bar twice, scored three goals, so at the other end, we managed to get over the line and take the points.
“It puts the pressure back on Man United who go to play Liverpool on Friday night.”
While Greenwood caught the eye, the encounter provided vital minutes for first-team trio Toivonen, Seb Larsson and Jordan Pickford, with Sunderland facing just one competitive encounter over the next three-and-a-half weeks.
“I thought Seb was terrific with his decision-making. He showed a really good level of fitness,” added Welsh.
“Ola had a really good performance and got two good goals, linking with Mika (Mandron).
“And Jordan needed a game as well, so it was an opportunity to get him minutes.”