USA international Josh Sargent looks set for increased game time with Werder Bremen in 2019/20 after impressing head coach Florian Kohfeldt in pre-season.
The 19-year-old scored twice in 205 minutes of Bundesliga action spread across 10 appearances last term and, after being omitted from the USA's Gold Cup roster over the summer, returned to Bremen more determined than ever to establish himself in senior football.
His hard work now appears to be paying off. "I'm very happy with him," said head coach Florian Kohfeldt after Bremen's recent friendly win over Eibar.
"His interplay with Yuya [Osako] was great and they alternated who would go deep and who would drop in between the lines. And he's getting chances. Josh is doing really well.
"He's now started two consecutive matches for the first team at a time when we're trying to find our rhythm. Those starts weren't just handed to him; he's earned it in training. I think Josh will play a bigger role for us this season than he did last year."
That ties in with Sargent's own hopes for the new campaign. "I'm now more familiar with how the coach wants to play," he said recently.
"The coach has sometimes told me after a good finish that you cannot teach it. I think I have a nose for goal in the box. Scoring goals is my favorite pastime, it happens instinctively. That's why playing as a centre-forward suits me best, but I play wherever the coach wants me to.
"The main thing is that I have more playing time. I hope to make my breakthrough soon. If it happens in the new season, it would be great."
Watch: Relive Sargent 's blistering Bundesliga start
Max Kruse's departure means there is a void to fill up front. Milot Rashica, Johannes Eggestein and Osako are all fellow attackers, but they operate in a deeper role.
The only other traditional centre forwards in the squad are Claudio Pizarro, who is likely to be used sparingly as he enters the final season of his career, and summer signing Niclas Füllkrug, who remains some way off peak fitness following injury.
Nevertheless, while things are looking up for Sargent, Kohfeldt was eager to sound a word of warning: "Please don't expect him to score 15 times and to play in every game. He's still a very young player who needs to get into his stride, but we'll also give him breaks every so often. I know he's able to have an impact at a very high level."
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