Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhüttl has praised the development of Ché Adams this season, saying the striker has earned his plaudits through hard work.
The former Birmingham City marksman scored his third goal in four games to break the deadlock against Newcastle United at St Mary’s, as Saints hit the top-flight summit for the first time in 32 years.
His understanding with Danny Ings has been central to Saints’ flying start to the campaign, but Adams continued to lead the line with menace even in the absence of his regular strike partner, currently sidelined by a knee injury.
Shortlisted for October’s Player of the Month prize, Adams has now hit seven goals in his last 14 Premier League appearances, having failed to score in his first 29 games for the club.
“He shows more and more that he is the signing we hoped from the first moment,” Hasenhüttl said.
“He had a tough first year, but it just shows that if you never stop working and never stop believing in what you’re doing, anything is possible.
“Now he is so important to us in front, especially when Danny is not here, so I think it was a good game from him.
“We had a little bit of a different shape in possession, so he was more alone sometimes in front, but the guys in the red zone should support him and Theo did it fantastically well.”
Adams was on the scoresheet after just seven minutes, sweeping home Theo Walcott’s cross from the right with a clinical volleyed finish.
Walcott was moved into a more central position against Newcastle, filling the void vacated by Ings, and the boss was impressed with how his latest signing adapted on his second home debut for the club.
“He made a fantastic assist and both goals were from counter-pressing, so that was also a key part of our game," Hasenhüttl explained.
“I’m very happy for him that he is with us now and he is such a hard worker for us.
“He’s very professional with the workload that he puts into the team. It means something to him that he is back here – I think you can feel it in every moment.
“This is what I was hoping for and I’m very happy that he gives the right answer on the pitch.”