DANNY Rose is starting to push himself now he has become used to life as a Premier League regular, according to Martin O’Neill.
The on-loan 22-year-old has been Sunderland’s outstanding player in recent weeks, not only solid defensively but increasingly marauding forward too.
Manager O’Neill believes the improvement in that side of his game is a sign the Tottenham Hotspur player is now comfortable in Premier League surroundings.
He said: “I know what Danny is capable of doing, that is why I brought him to this club. You have to nurture him.
“The reason he is getting better is because he is getting fitter, and I am talking match-fitness.
“He never played enough matches at Spurs. He came in at the back end of last season.
“As he is getting fitter he is becoming more confident and the crowd are getting right behind him. It makes it easier for him.”
With 11 Premier League starts for Sunderland, Rose has already doubled his career tally.
Only half his 16 league appearances for Spurs came in the starting XI.
Although Rose has now played 71 times in senior football, much of that came in loan spells with Watford, Peterborough United and Bristol City.
Signed from Leeds United as a £1m teenager in July 2007, Rose’s breakthrough came last season when he made 20 first-team appearances for Spurs in all competitions without being able to oust Benoit Assou-Ekotto or Gareth Bale.
Since making his Sunderland debut against Liverpool in mid-September after joining on a season-long loan, he has missed only two matches – at home to Middlesbrough and Aston Villa. Rose has played 25 times for England Under-21 and was an ever-present for Great Britain at this summer’s Olympics.
However, O’Neill believes he has found the Premier League a step up.
He added: “For the under-21s he can go marauding but it is a different intensity in the Premier League.
“He has become used to that now. You look at his first two games for us, he got it and gave it. He played within a zone.
“Now he is more confident and I knew he was capable of being a lot better than that.”
Rose’s form has been the more impressive because of his involvement in England Under-21s’ controversial play-off in Serbia.
Rose (pictured below) was subjected to monkey chants throughout the game and was sent off in the dying seconds for his angry reaction when clubmate Connor Wickham scored the goal which confirmed England’s place at this summer’s European Championships in Israel.
Rose found himself at the centre of the ensuing diplomatic storm after being accused of “inappropriate, unsportsmanlike and vulgar” behaviour by the Serbian Football Association. Others could have been badly affected by the controversy, but it is to Rose’s immense credit O’Neill has been able to say: “He was sad about that and it was on his mind but he tried to separate that situation and he has done.”
Meanwhile, Chelsea could have their captain and vice-captain back for Saturday’s trip to the Stadium of Light. John Terry and Frank Lampard are yet to play for new Blues’ manager Rafael Benitez but both are back in training and, along with Daniel Sturridge, will be assessed ahead of the trip to Wearside.
None will play in tonight’s crucial Champions League game against Nordsjælland.
“Sturridge maybe on Thursday will start training,” said Benitez, who has been unable to end a winless run which now extends to seven league games.
“Frank has been training for two days but not full training. He’s fine but it’s still too early.
“JT has been training with the physios but it is too early for this game. ”