Big summer signing Jeremain Lens has finally adapted to life in the Premier League – with Sunderland now reaping the rewards.
That is the view of fellow Dutchman and team-mate Patrick van Aanholt, who believes £8million Lens is set for an extended run in the Black Cats side.
Lens impressed in the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal and the vital 4-2 Premier League win at Swansea City on Wednesday after returning to the starting line-up.
Recently disciplined and told to spend time training with the Under-21s at the Academy of Light, Lens is now firmly back in boss Sam Allardyce’s first-team plans.
And van Aanholt has warned Premier League defences to beware.
“The whole team knows Jeremain was our big signing this season, but when you come here to the Premier League you have to adapt and he needed that time,” revealed van Aanholt.
“He has had that time now, he is back in the team and has done very well.
“I don’t see him losing his place in the team now, if he continues to play as well as he has done in the last couple of games.
“He is very good professional and knows what to do.”
Lens was a key man at the Liberty Stadium, playing in the No 10 role behind hat-trick hero Jermain Defoe, with marauding left-back van Aanholt providing pace and width down the left flank.
Assisting Defoe on his way to the matchball, van Aanholt also knows the value of the ex-England man to Sunderland’s relegation battle.
He added: “Every club Jermain has been at he has scored goals, he is a top-class player.
“He only needs one chance and you saw that against Swansea.”
On a personal note, the 25-year-old has endured a mixed season but he is now a regular under Allardyce and has found his goalscoring touch of late, scoring the equaliser against Swansea City.
Van Aanholt added: “I could have scored the fourth, but I saw Jermain across from me and played him in – I am not selfish.
“He is a striker and scored the goal for his hat-trick – that is what I am like!
“That is my game, I like to go forward, that is my strength and I like to keep doing that for the team and being an important member.
“In my position, my first thought is defensive but if I do that well, then I can look to go forward, attacking is more my strength.
“If the space is there, the gaffer says go.
“I got the feeling to go against Swansea and it worked out very well.”
Victory over relegation rivals Swansea secured back-to-back wins for Sunderland for only the second time this season, lifting them above Newcastle United and to within a point of safety.
A third straight league win at Tottenham today could see them climb out of the drop zone.
“We needed the points and we have now beaten Aston Villa and Swansea,” added van Aanholt.
“It is the maximum we could have got and we are very happy to climb up the league.”