Summer signing Papy Djilobodji has been thrown straight in at the deep end since arriving on Wearside in an £8million deal.
David Moyes admitted that he hadn’t intended to start Djilobodji so soon, but the sale of Younes Kaboul to Watford sped up his introduction into the Sunderland side.
Moyes has been pleased with the former Chelsea man, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Werder Bremen.
The 53-year-old Scot has praised his composure on the ball and his athleticism.
But he admits Djilobodji needs a lot of ‘schooling’ and he will look to spend time on the training pitches at the Academy of Light working on his positional play.
“I think he’s like a lot of centre-halves,” said Moyes, after Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Southampton.
“I’m not sure how good [Virgil] Van Dijk was when he first came down to Southampton.
“We’re having to put our boys in when really, ideally, we’d sit them on the bench for a month or two, get them a few cup games and bring them along.
“But because of our numbers and the way it’s worked, they’re all thrown in and sometimes you judge very quickly.
“But I’ve got to say, he’s composed on the ball.
“He needs a lot of schooling, that’s what I would say.
“He needs a lot of schooling, and I’ve got an awful lot of work to do on the training ground just to get the Britishness into him.
“I don’t want to take out all his natural ability.
“He’s good on the ball, he’s got speed and a great spring.
“So I’d like to get a lot of work and it’s going to take a lot of work. The things I’m looking to do are more to get him positionally correct.
“There was one free-kick he gave away late in the game when he went in a bit fast and got caught.
“So things like that which sometimes only time in games can get you to understand it a bit more.”
Moyes took charge of Sunderland this summer after Sam Allardyce left to take the England job.
The former Everton and Manchester United boss admits it is taking time for him to stamp his mark on Sunderland’s style of play – with Moyes having to remain flexible until he gets his injured players back, plus new signings before Wednesday’s 11pm deadline.
“I’d like to tinker with it, but I just don’t think I’ve really got the players at the moment to make too many changes,” added Moyes.
“I’m trying little bits.
“We actually started with a similar shape to Southampton.
“We played differently against Manchester City, we played differently against Middlesbrough.
“So I want to be flexible, but also because of the level of the opposition often we’re having to make sure that we can stop them, and have a platform to build on until I get a level of players who I feel can make a real difference.
“It happened at Man City too – it was 1-1 there, and we conceded late in the game.
“Southampton had periods when they had lots of possession, but we limited them.
“The opening period was probably when we were at our worst. It may have been because we had a cup game in midweek, which they didn’t, so they started brighter.
“And maybe that game in midweek might even have had an effect in the last 10 or 15 minutes, because we have roughly the same group of players – we haven’t got many to choose from.”
Moyes was pleased with the full debut of new right-back Javier Manquillo, signed on a season-long loan from Atletico Madrid.
Sunderland have an option to sign Manquillo on a four-year deal after the completion of his loan spell on Wearside.
While Moyes was also happy with the contribution of fellow loanee – Adnan Januzaj – in the draw at St Mary’s.
The Manchester United winger scored the winner in the EFL Cup win over Shrewsbury Town in midweek and the Belgian showed flashes of his talent on the south coast at the weekend.
“I thought the right-back played very well on his debut, so there were some pluses,” said Moyes.
“Adnan had some great moments for us, and there were moments where you could see what a great player he is. We have to raise our quality and make sure that we are winning games, not drawing or losing them.”