Paddy McNair is establishing himself as a central player in Chris Coleman’s Sunderland plans and his midfield dominance has even taken a long-term team-mate by surprise.
McNair rose through Manchester United’s academy alongside Donald Love, the pair both being handed debuts by Louis Van Gaal before joining Sunderland in the summer of 2016.
Love has seen the Northern Ireland international thrive in a number of roles, but hopes to see him make his position as Coleman’s enforcer his own.
The right-back also praised Ashley Fletcher, another former United youngster.
He said: “Paddy and Fletch have been big positives for us recently. Fletch has fitted in well now, especially with us being able to get more players around him and help him.
“It’s great to see Paddy playing games after all his injury problems and especially getting goals as well. We know that’s what he can do and hopefully we can keep making good use of him.
“I’ve grown up with him swapping positions quite a bit. I’ve seen him play in midfield before, but I’ve not seen him being such a powerhouse, getting from box to box. Hopefully, we can see more of that.
Love has cemented his position in the starting XI over the last month and echoed the sentiment of many team-mates when saying that continuity has been key for the club.
Sunderland’s Championship status looks certain to be ended over the next week, but Love says the team will keep fighting for the loyal supporters.
He said: “The manager has not really changed the team much recently and you can see that in the way we’ve been playing. That’s why the fans are backing us. It’s been good.
“We’re still fighting but at the end of the season we might look back on it and wish we hadn’t had all the injuries that have made it so difficult for us to keep a settled side but right now it’s not about looking back, we’re still looking forward.
“We’re still fighting for the fans and they can see that. I think that’s why we got a good reaction at the end of the Reading game.
“We’re still fighting to stay in this league and we still want to win every game. It’s for them at the end of the day.
“Burton is a must-win game for us, everyone knows that. We just want to go into that game and win.”