Tottenham Hotspur youngster reflects on Sunderland loan so far, his fight for minutes and first senior goal

Kazaiah Sterling scores his first Sunderland goal on Saturday
Kazaiah Sterling scores his first Sunderland goal on Saturday
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A moment of catharsis for Kazaiah Sterling.

This is the youngster’s first loan move but minutes have been few and far between.

Just hours after his deadline day switch, Will Grigg signed and already he had a fight for a place.

Slowly but surely, he has edged his way forward with the likes of Chris Maguire and Duncan Watmore sidelined.

On Wednesday night he got his pay-off, teed up by the unselfish Lewis Morgan but scoring a vital third goal with real composure. His celebration was to thump the ball back into the net again, before celebrating with the 1,500 travelling fans.

A first senior goal, and one to remember.

“It was a really good feeling getting my first goal for Sunderland, especially as it was a goal that really helped the team,” Sterling said.

“To be fair we felt in control at that stage but you never know with these games. One goal and they’re back in it, so getting a third goal was really important.”

After the game, Jack Ross admitted it had taken Sterling time to adjust but sensed the open game at the Wham Stadium could give him his moment.

The 20-year-old says it is an experience he is learning from every day.

“We’ve got loads of games coming up and the gaffer said just to be ready when the chance comes,” he said.

“That means working hard in training and keeping doing what I’ve been doing so that when the chance comes in I’m in a position to take it.

“It’s hard but at the end of the day I didn’t just come around to sit here and relax, I came here to work hard. Even if I’m not playing, working hard means working hard off the pitch, in training, everything. It’s not just about the games.

“I think I’ve learned a lot coming here. I’ve learned a lot from the senior players and even the younger players playing in the first team. Everyone’s helped me a lot with my learning.

“I felt sharp when I came on because I’ve been working hard in training,” he added.

“Everyone has been, which means I have to work hard too.

“If everyone else is sharp then I’m sharp as well. We’re all helping each other through this.

“All I can do now is keep working hard and when I’m given the chance, keep doing as well as I can.”

It was an emphatic response from the whole squad, Ross making five changes to the side that lost in the Checkatrade Trophy final on penalties.

Sunderland have applied the pressure on their promotion rivals and Sterling has called for more of the same when the Black Cats travel to Rochdale on Saturday afternoon.

“We reacted really well straight away,” Sterling said.

“I thought it was really important that we got a goal early and from then on I knew we were going to do well in the game.

“I thought it was really important that we started well to get us going.

“Especially after the defeat on Sunday, the teams around us would probably have been expecting us to be a bit down but all the boys got on with it and bounced back.

“Training’s been sharp and morale has been high, so we’ve just got to keep that up.”