Will Sunderland players take leaf out of George Honeyman book?

George Honeyman: Bright spark. PIcture by FRANK REID
George Honeyman: Bright spark. PIcture by FRANK REID
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Any positives from The Hawthorns?

Very few in number they may be, but the couple we saw in West Brom’s all-too-easy 2-0 victory were significant ones.

Rodwell returned at the Hawthorns but Honeyman retained his place, and rightly so

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Victor Anichebe’s return to the field provided a major boost.

If Sunderland are to pull off another unlikely escape act, the big man is going to play a sizeable role in it.

Big Vic came on for the almost-anonymous Adnan Januzaj just before the mid-point in the second half.

It was hard work for the 28-year-old, who looked like a man who had been out for a few weeks. Yes, he put himself about and tried, but was just that little bit ‘off it’.

Doubtless it will come – Anichebe is a player who, when up to speed, is a handful and that is just what the side is lacking, with Januzaj and Fabio Borini not currently looking at their best.

It has left Jermain Defoe, not for the first time, with the weight of Wearside on his shoulders.

Anichebe’s broad shoulders will assist.

But the not-so-broad shoulders of George Honeyman could also prove handy in the coming weeks.

With the squad stretched to its limit, the 22-year-old, a regular on the bench, finally got a start last Tuesday in the FA Cup at Burnley after Jack Rodwell was ruled out with a knee problem.

Rodwell returned at West Brom, but Honeyman retained his place, and rightly so. At Turf Moor, the Academy product, from Prudhoe, was steady and disciplined – there was nothing spectacular, it was a good job on debut.

But his first Premier League start produced a step up in performance.

The discipline was still there, but there was more energy, more ambition, it was refreshing to see a demand for the ball, even after his confidence may have been affected by one bad pass forward which ran out harmlessly for a goal-kick.

Honeyman is not the biggest or strongest, at this moment in time, but there is a bit of a spark there and at a stage when the team are struggling for numbers and, in truth, reinforcements, having a bright character like him come into the side is a boost.

Honeyman was the man who initiated one of the side’s best periods of the game, a 71st-minute move which ended with Seb Larsson crossing to Billy Jones, up in support from the back, whose header went comfortably into the hands of West Brom keeper Ben Foster.

The former Gateshead loan player covered ground then and had to do so again 13 minutes from time, when he chased back and hacked down Matt Phillips after a home counter-attack following a free-kick from the Cats which went horribly wrong.

Honeyman was, correctly, yellow-carded for his trouble as he dug his team out of a potential hole.

He dug in throughout the match, there were plenty of legitimate challenges at The Hawthorns, and tons of effort.

His work-rate may also have a positive effect on some of his more senior team-mates who could do with taking a leaf out of George’s book. He deserves another start.