Fresh from a goal against Birmingham before the international break, many would have thought that Adil Aouchiche had put his name into the manager’s mind ahead of a busy period leading up to and during the festive period.
Pre-Birmingham, there was a suggestion that Aouchiche was the main name to replace what was seemingly a tiring Jobe in the attacking midfield role, but after a convincing display against his former side and his withdrawal from the England under-19’s set-up meant that heading to Home Park, his name was still on the teamsheet.
Jobe’s goal against Wayne Rooney’s side was his third of the campaign, adding to his double that he netted against Rotherham earlier in the season, whilst his withdrawal from the national youth team meant that it was a much-needed two-week break for the 18-year-old.
And so, any comments that Jobe was looking tired were squashed, and a start against Plymouth was his reward.
However, in a half that was below par for the team, Jobe’s creativity in the final third was rather limited, and his impact on the game was minimal.
Overall, though, the longest trip of the season was a truly forgettable one, in a performance filled with more negatives than positives once again on the road, but arguably the standout performer was Aouchiche.
Although his impact on the match meant little in the grand scheme of proceedings at Home Park, he has more than staked a claim to start against Huddersfield at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night.
Two attempts in quick succession within about 10 minutes of the start of the second half added to our dominance, but our problem continues to be that we are struggling to put the ball in the back of the net, away from home.
Despite hitting the woodwork on multiple occasions, Aouchiche almost converted one of the rebounds when Trai Hume struck the post in the second half, but Aouchiche’s out-stretched leg could only divert the ball against the side-netting.
Yet, throughout the second half, Aouchiche was our most dangerous and creative player, and after a disappointing first half, it was a much-needed change to the contest.
For me though, his second-half performance can only mean one thing, and after a goal against Rooney’s Blues before the international break and now another impressive cameo, Aouchiche’s first start for the club surely must be on the horizon.
Following his summer move from Lorient, the Frenchman made seven successive appearances from the bench, before a groin injury at the end of October ruled him out of three matches.
His return before the break was memorable for his first goal for the club (his first goalscoring experience since netting for the under-23s against Derby in September), and with a busy schedule coming up as we head into Christmas, Mowbray has been rather open that he is likely to switch the side around over that period.
And so, with a midweek match this week, this may be the time in which Aouchiche gets his first start, either at the Stadium of Light against Darren Moore’s Huddersfield on Wednesday or at the Den against Millwall next weekend.
Over his three months on Wearside, Aouchiche has deserved a first start, and after Saturday’s defeat to Plymouth, surely now is the time for Adil to step up.