David Moyes has insisted that Adnan Januzaj is giving everything in Sunderland’s relegation fight, even if his body language on the pitch can suggest otherwise.
The Belgian international had shown some promising form over the festive period, a bright spark in the 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
But he has come under fire for his performances since then, and was jeered off the field at the Hawthorns when replaced by Victor Anichebe.
With the Nigerian facing a potential lay-off after taking a bang to the knee, Januzaj is likely to retain his place alongside Jermain Defoe up front and Moyes is confident that he will get the goals that Sunderland need.
Januzaj seemed to struggle with the physicality of an organised and disciplined West Brom side, as had been the case against Burnley and Stoke City in the previous two games.
Moyes said that the 21-year-old is learning how to deal with that aggression but insisted that he is proving himself to be a team player.
He said: “I am probably the toughest one on Adnan because I know what he has got. I know he is a really really good footballer and wouldn’t be out of place playing for many top teams, that is for sure.
“He has a tough ask but it will be a good education for him and part of building himself up.
“I would say to him, and have told him, we need more from him. He is going to have to show more strength at times.
“But a bit like Jermain, at times he didn’t get much room. Adnan has the ability to be a really top player. He has great skills but at this moment in time he is finding it tough.
“It is for him to show how good a player he is and let me tell you he is desperate to do that. I know him and can see him in training, he will want to show people how good he is.
“It is not for the want of trying, sometimes his body language gives you that feeling but I have to tell you he is a good player and I have no doubt he will get some goals before the end of the season.
“(On Saturday) the game was a competitive game which is good for his own education.
“It can’t always be games which suit him.
“I think he is finding that, he knows it is tough and we need him to be a team player and he is doing that.”