TONY MOWBRAY has urged Amad Diallo to become more selfish in the 18-yard box, claiming the youngster’s lack of an end product is the only thing holding him back as he looks to break into Sunderland’s first team.
Diallo joined the Black Cats on loan from Manchester United in the final week of the transfer window, but is yet to make his first start for his new employers.
He caught the eye as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s goalless draw with Preston, and will hope to feature in the starting side when Sunderland host Blackpool this evening, with Mowbray considering making changes to spruce up his attack.
The Black Cats boss has been impressed with Diallo’s performances in training, and is confident the 20-year-old has an extremely bright future. However, he has called on the youngster to be more ruthless when it comes to creating and converting chances in the final third.
“He’s just a young boy really, but he’s supremely talented,” said Mowbray. “To see his touch, and see how fast and direct he is, it’s a lovely thing to watch on the training pitch. You see how talented he is, and you can see why he’s at Man United, but you can also understand why he’s out on loan, to develop the core materials you need to be a competitive footballer.
“He needs to find a better end product. He has all this soft, lovely feet and brilliant skills, but he needs to shoot when he gets in the box. When he sees the goal, he needs to shoot, and he needs to add goals and assists to his name.
“It’s not enough just to be a lovely footballer who can dribble and go past people, but never have an end product. That’s the message, yet it’s not a simple one. You have to keep repeating it to him all the time – we have to drill into him that we want him to shoot and get in the box.
“Can he score a scruffy goal, can he get a rebound off the goalie? We have to get him into those positions, but when it all clicks for him, he’s going to be some footballer because he’s got every attribute you want.”
Like Diallo, Edouard Michut joined Sunderland in the final week of the transfer window, and like his fellow loanee, the Paris St Germain midfielder is also still to force his way into the Black Cats’ starting side.
Mowbray admits Michut is becoming “frustrated” at his lack of involvement – he was in the matchday squad at the weekend – but he has assured the Frenchman he will not have to wait much longer for a chance to prove himself in the Championship.
“He (Michut) fell a week behind when he first arrived because he picked up a little injury, and needed some time to adapt to the intensity of the training,” said the Sunderland boss. “He’s catching up. I’m looking hard now to give him an opportunity because I think the supporters will see that he’s more than capable of playing in our first team.
“He’s very elegant and he’s got two lovely feet. He’s got a great passing range, very confident with the ball, and he will be involved very soon. I can feel a little bit of frustration from him, and I don’t mind that. He will be given an opportunity very soon.”
Dennis Cirkin is set to return to the squad tonight, although the fine form of Aji Alese, who has replaced him at left-back, means he will only be on the bench.
“Dennis is ready,” said Mowbray. “He’ll be on the bench, I think. He’s over his injury, I had a good chat with him and together we just felt there was no need to risk it at the weekend, it gave him extra time to train. We think that was the best way to do it. He feels ready, and I expect to see him on the team sheet (tonight).”
Ellis Simms will not be involved against Blackpool, with the loanee still sidelined with the toe injury that forced him off during the first half of last month’s win at Reading.
The striker’s rehabilitation is being managed in conjunction with his parent club, Everton, with Mowbray conceding he remains at least a fortnight away from a return to action.
“Ellis’ situation won’t be changing over the next week or two, I don’t think,” he said. “I’m hoping I’ll surprise you all in two or three weeks by saying Ellis is back training and you might see him on the bench, but at the moment, that’s not the case.
“We have to be cautious with him. If you picture the injury, it’s his big toe, it’s a ligament and it needs some time to settle down.”
Sunderland (probable, 4-3-3): Patterson; Gooch, O’Nien, Batth, Alese; Neil, Evans, Embleton; Roberts, Pritchard, Clarke.