Sunderland striker Connor Wickham has told the club's official website of a discussion held with Dick Advocaat that has helped to raise his confidence levels.
Advocaat took charge of Sunderland last month and Wickham says that he immediately set up an individual meeting with him, to discuss a number of issues.
Advocaat wanted to find out where Wickham is most comfortable playing and whether he would be happy to play behind a front-two, and the 22-year-old says these actions made him feel very ‘important’.
“The new head coach has said from day one what he expects from the players and he has pulled individual players to explain what he wants them to do," he said.
“He’s set a high standard and that is good for the team collectively and as individuals. He pulled me on his second day and asked me what my favourite position was and how I would feel about playing behind two strikers, so it was positive that he asked me that and it felt like I was being taking into consideration for a place in the team.
“It makes you feel important so I’m sure every player who has had that feels good.”
Wickham will now be looking to repay his manager's faith and fire his side clear of the drop zone.
The England U21 international has not scored with any frequency to date this term, but he showed his worth towards the back end of last season and will be hoping to do so again this time around.
Wickham's goals effectively saved Sunderland from the drop in 2013/14 and if he could enjoy a similar purple patch over the next few weeks, it would be most welcome.
The Black Cats are currently perched three points above the relegation places and will need to win at least two of their remaining fixtures to cement their top-flight status.