Yan Dhanda's perfect present
Birthday boy Yan Dhanda raised a toast to a starting role and three precious points after Swansea City returned to winning ways against Middlesbrough.
The midfielder turned 21 on Saturday, with Steve Cooper handing Dhanda his first start since the home defeat to Brentford in October.
He featured for 68 minutes as the Swans ended a six-match run without a win courtesy of an Andre Ayew brace and Sam Surridge’s strike.
It was Dhanda’s ninth appearance of the season as he came into the team in place of the suspended Tom Carroll in what was the only change to the previous outing with Blackburn.
And the day proved the perfect way to mark his birthday.
“It’s exactly what I wanted on my birthday - three points,” said Dhanda. “We’ve been playing well at home but not quite getting the three points so, thankfully, we did on Saturday, which was a great birthday present for me.”
He added: “I’ve been a bit frustrated not to have featured recently, but I just told myself to keep working hard until I got a reward from it.
“I’ve been doing that and, thankfully, it’s paid off. The gaffer told me that I’d been doing well in training and that I was going to get my opportunity. “When I found out I was playing, he told me to play the way that I’d been training – with freedom, to get on the ball and make things happen.
“I was quite proud of my performance. I think game by game I’m getting better. I’m gaining experience, starting to make more clever decisions and understanding when to protect the ball and when to make something happen. I’m pleased to get another game under my belt and, hopefully, I can get many more.
“Hopefully, I did enough for the gaffer to pick me and I will respect his decision. I’m looking forward to the next game and, hopefully, I can get more minutes.