Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray has been quoted by the Northern Echo as saying that on-loan Leeds United star Joe Gelhardt is struggling for confidence at the moment – after a difficult start to his loan spell with the Black Cats.

Gelhardt, 20, was brought in at the Stadium of Light after Everton recalled Ellis Simms. But an injury to star striker Ross Stewart saw Gelhardt thrusted into the attack, starting every game. He has since scored just one goal in eight games.

The England Under-21 ace was hooked at half-time in a 5-1 loss to Bristol City earlier this month. Against Norwich City on Sunday, he was much improved. He dictated Norwich’s experienced centre-backs Grant Hanley and Ben Gibson.

Indeed, the Chronicle Live report that it was his “best all-round performance” since joining Sunderland from Leeds on loan – as the Black Cats won 1-0 away from home. Gelhardt got an assist, his second so far. Mowbray commented.

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“In these next 11 games I said to him he has to try and stay robust and fit and strong and try and rebuild some confidence, because I do think his confidence is pretty low at the moment,” Mowbray admitted after the 1-0 win.

“But he’ll be given opportunities. I don’t sit here at this moment and think I’ll put him on the bench and protect him. The burden on him is he has to generally start because he’s the only striker we have who is close to being a nine.”

Mowbray says on-loan Leeds star Gelhardt struggling for confidence

Gelhardt should not be too disheartened with his performances. Of course, a striker’s prerogative is to score goals. One in eight will not be the kind of record Joffy was looking for. However, his work rate and his creativity is not in question.

Leeds know what Gelhardt is capable of. Hopefully for the player himself, he can get perhaps four or five goals in the final 11 League games of the season to give himself some respectable numbers while at the Championship side.

In doing so, he can return to Leeds with some confidence and show Javi Gracia – or whoever is in charge – that he is able to break into the senior side and make an impact. The signing of Georgie Rutter, though, obviously confuses that.

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