ADIL Aouchiche could be in line to make his first Sunderland start on Wednesday night, with Mark Venus admitting the playmaker has "made everyone take notice" with his cameos from the bench.

Aouchiche was a goalscoring substitute in the win over Birmingham City before the international break and was introduced after just 45 minutes at Plymouth at the weekend as Tony Mowbray looked for a way back into the game.

The 21-year-old couldn't spark a comeback at Home Park, but Sunderland's coaches have been hugely impressed by the attacker in training and games, with Venus admitting he's settled better than any of the other summer signings.

Sunderland's coaching team have spent the last few days plotting the best route to a response after the Plymouth defeat, and Venus hinted that Aouchiche could be in from the off against Huddersfield, saying: "He has to be close to the team, he deserves that."

Mowbray previously admitted that Aouchiche would have started against either Leicester or Norwich last month in place of Jobe Bellingham - who could have done with a rest - but the summer recruit from Lorient was sidelined with a groin problem.

Aouchiche missed those two games, was an unused substitute in the draw at Swansea but caught the eye from the bench against both Birmingham and Plymouth.

Venus said: "I think of all the players [we brought in over the summer], I think he's the one who seems to have settled in the quickest. He's a talented boy and his performances from the bench, I think he's made everyone take notice. I think you have to take notice of him.

"He scored a brilliant goal for us [against Birmingham City], he's created opportunities, he went very close for us against Plymouth.

"He influences the team when he's on the pitch, he's a talented individual. He's important to us, you can see that. He's getting stronger and better as you can see from watching the games."


While Aouchiche has settled well, the four strikers who arrived in the summer haven't found their feet quite as quickly. The wait goes on for a first goal from any of the frontmen, with Eliezer Mayenda potentially in line to get his shot at a start against Huddersfield. Nazariy Rusyn has started the last four Championship games but he was hooked at half-time at Plymouth and replaced by Mayenda, who has impressed in training since recovering from his injury.

Venus insists there's calm inside the club despite the lack of goals from the strikers.

He said: "We have scored plenty of goals this season, The strikers are all talented guys, they have come into the club and it isn't easy to settle into the league. As we know, it's a tough league but they'll keep working hard and hopefully will adapt in time and I'm sure their talent will come through and they'll contribute.

"It's hard for these lads, when you come to a different country, especially in a league as intense as this one, everyone tells you how difficult it is. Lots of teams come down from the Premier League and can't find their feet, never mind young players from different climates. They're working really hard and we're all pulling in the same direction."

Huddersfield head for the Stadium of Light just a place and four points above the drop zone but Darren Moore's side were boosted by a draw against Southampton at the weekend after a late goal.

Venus said: "They're at the bottom end of the league but have a new coach and they're very organised. I'm sure he'll pick them up.

"We should have got a result at Plymouth but we didn't for different reasons. We have to learn from that. Let's not kid ourselves, we know we have to improve, we have a young, vibrant group of footballers who are pushing to get better."