Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sbragia Will Hand 'Still Hungry' Jones Key Role

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sbragia Will Hand 'Still Hungry' Jones Key Role

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas

RICKY Sbragia has dismissed accusations that Kenwyne Jones has lost his hunger since he signed his new contract, writes MARK DOUGLAS.

Amid much fanfare in January, Jones (pictured right) committed his future to the club by inking a four-and-a-half year deal that came with a huge pay rise for the 24-year-old.

s coup for the club, but the goals have dried up for the Trinidad & Tobago international ever since. He has scored just three times since the turn of the year - a major factor in Sunderland's flat-lining form.

Sbragia has flatly denied that he is resting on laurels, instead laying the blame for his inconsistency with a series of knocks that he has suffered - and the strain of recovering from the serious knee injury that he suffered 12 months ago.

The Sunderland boss was also at pains to point out that the injury suffered in the Tyne-Wear derby back in February was a serious one. "The (knee) injury (a year ago) takes it's toll. He gets a lot of knocks in games as well. At Newcastle he got one and sometimes when you get back as quick as he got back then you hit the wall physically after beings successful for five, six or seven games," he said.

"He has taken a lot of bashes, knocks.

His body has been through hell. We have had to play him near enough all of the games when it would have been nice to bring him in and out of games.

"I don't think he lost his hunger. He trains well, he is 24 and a young player with a lot to learn. He did well last year and this is his second season in the Premier League.

"Defenders get to know him. The first year they take you for granted, the second they know what you are all about, and they toughen up towards you. They are thinking about you much more but he has done really well for me. There's definitely no lack of hunger." Sbragia will back up his words with actions - handing Jones a key role in the attack once again as Sunderland go in search of points at Fratton Park. …

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