Sunderland left-back Patrick van Aanholt challenged to become one of the best in the league

Sunderland defender Patrick van Aanholt.
Sunderland defender Patrick van Aanholt.
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Patrick van Aanholt has been challenged to improve his defending and become one of the best left-backs in the country by Sunderland boss David Moyes.

The flying Dutchman was dropped for the last Premier League game against West Bromwich Albion but came off the bench to salvage a point with a late goal.

Moyes – who is considering switching to a 3-5-2 formation at Stoke City today – says the 26-year-old has all the attacking attributes in his arsenal needed to be a top full-back.

But he has called on the Dutch international to improve the defensive side of his game – the reason he was dropped against the Baggies.

Jermain Defoe is the leading goalscorer with four goals, with van Aanholt second with two league strikes.

Sunderland – currently propping up the rest of the Premier League – need to add goals from elsewhere to relieve the pressure from Defoe.

And Moyes believes van Aanholt plays an important role going forward, it is poor positioning defensively that lets him down.

“I think we need other people who can score other than Jermain Defoe,” said Moyes.

“His goal record is fantastic for the amount of chances we create. We need more though from elsewhere.

“The likes of Pat – who does come up with one or two goals. But at the moment the development for Pat would be to become a top left-back – that is what we want him to be.

“All the best left-backs are attacking, you look at Danny Rose, Leighton Baines, Ashley Cole over the years.

“They have all been great attacking left-backs. There is no reason why Pat shouldn’t try and achieve that.

“But what he has to do is get the defensive side right, that he gets back in to defend and in the right positions.

“He has all the attributes going the other way.

“I didn’t think he had played well enough to deserve to play last week (against West Brom).

“It may be that this week he has to go back in because of the numbers, as much as anything.”

Sunderland clawed their way back against West Brom after switching to three at the back, with van Aanholt and Javier Manquillo as the wing-backs.

Injuries to Lamine Kone, who faces a late fitness test, and Jason Denayer will limit Moyes’ options to play a back three at the Bet635 Stadium, with Papy Djilobodji set to partner skipper John O’Shea in a back four if Kone misses out.

Moyes was keeping his cards close to his chest ahead of the game.

Moyes added “You can only go with what you have got. It is something we will just have to wait and see on.”

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