MICHAEL CARRICK complimented Sam Greenwood for how he handled the emotions of his Sunderland return, and feels the talented Leeds United loanee’s best is yet to come.
Greenwood’s goal set Boro on their way to a spectacular 4-0 triumph after former teammate Dan Neil was sent off on his first trip to the Stadium of Light since leaving Sunderland for Arsenal when he was 16 and with his family and friends in the audience.
The forward claimed it was “weird” to be back at the Stadium of Light and playing against the club where he grew up, but he handled the occasion admirably.
Carrick said: “It’s not an easy one for Sam, and I was conscious of that coming into the game. We know his background and with his family and friends being Sunderland fans, and that was the first time he’s played here as well.
“He’s also still finding his feet for us, but I have faith and trust in him, and knew what he was capable of. He was terrific and I was really pleased with him. It will be a big one for him as well, to get his first goal in a big game like this. And for the performance he gave, it should definitely be a massive boost for him moving forward.”
Greenwood was playing catch-up with his fitness when he joined Boro having suffered an injury in the summer with Leeds, so Carrick knew patience would be needed. But on the evidence of the last week and performances against Cardiff and Sunderland, the 21-year-old is now fully fit and firing.
Carrick said: “When he first came in he was a little bit frustrated, but I think now he realises it does take a little time to get that sharpness, and we spoke to him throughout that time about being patient. We were patient with him. Now, I think we’re definitely seeing that it’s starting to come for him, and I think that’s showed in the last two games.”
Another Boro forward in form is Isaiah Jones, who had his greatest game under Carrick at Sunderland. The winger had a fantastic breakout season two years ago, but he struggled with a variety of off-the-field concerns last season, which he boldly discussed in the summer.
He’s presently in a good spot both off and on the field.
“Izzy was bright all day (at Sunderland),” stated the head coach. It’s fantastic to watch him enjoying his football. He’s in a good spot.
“He’s looking sharp and dangerous, and he’s also putting in a defensive shift for us.” His intensity has been outstanding. When he plays like that, he makes the team much stronger, and he’s doing really well. It’s fantastic.