The Northern Irishman saw his side progress to the fifth-round of the FA Cup, but he reserved special praise for his deadline day signing
Stoke City boss Michael O’Neill has praised the impact of Super Eagles striker Josh Maja after the 23-year-old scored on his debut for the club.
Maja joined Stoke on a six-month loan deal from Bordeaux on deadline day following a frustrating first half of the season in the French Ligue 1.
The one-cap Nigeria international only played 45 minutes in the first part of the season, with all the minutes spreading across four substitute appearances.
But despite his lack of minutes in France, he played from the start in his first game for the Potters. Maja did not disappoint, though, as he scored 14 minutes into his debut to help Stoke to a 2-0 win over Wigan in their FA Cup fourth-round encounter.
It was a big decision from O’Neill to include Maja in the starting lineup, but following the game, the Northern Irishman was full of praise for the Nigerian, saying it was what he needed.
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“Josh took his goal extremely well and I think he linked the play up well, O’Neill said on Stoke website.
“He’s not played a lot of football in the first half of the season so he’ll benefit from the 70-odd minutes he had today.”
The former Northern Ireland manager, however, admitted that Maja still needs to build his fitness as he has not played much this season.
“That’s what he needs. For him to show what he showed today was a real positive but we still have to build his fitness and get him as many minutes as we can. He’ll improve with that as well.”
Maja will get another chance to add more minutes when the Potters host Swansea in their Skybet Championship clash on Wednesday.