Interim manager Mike Dodds hailed the impact of Jobe Bellingham as a centre-forward after Sunderland beat Cardiff 2-0 to claim their first win since February 10.

Bellingham, the 18-year-old younger brother of England and Real Madrid midfielder Jude, won an early penalty before scoring his seventh goal of the season in all-round mature performance.

“We should be excited about his performance, something we can build on moving forward,” said Dodds, who revealed he has held conversations with Bellingham about his best position after tending to play him in midfield.

“He’s scored a goal and done well in the the game. He’s a coach’s dream, if I said go and play in goal he would just crack on with it.

“What he has got, which many number nines don’t have in this league, is unbelievable quality with his feet – a centre-midfielder playing up front.

“He gave us a platform to play off but you’ve got to remember he’s a second-year scholar playing in the Championship.

“He’s 18 and I know he carries the weight of his brother, which I think sometimes is unfair.

“But if you put that to one side, you’ve just seen a second-year scholar who has been exceptional and should be playing youth-team football.”

Dodds succeeded the sacked Michael Beale on February 19 and Sunderland had lost six and drawn one of their previous seven games to slide down the Sky Bet Championship table.

He said: “I think it was a real professional performance and I’ve tried to stay really balanced in this seat looking at performances.

“I am more happy for the group and the fans because the result makes everything feel a little bit lighter but I’m quite balanced.

“The (first) goal was a huge psychological factor in us just relaxing, after that we were excellent and cut through them really well.”

A second successive defeat – Cardiff had lost 2-0 to Welsh rivals Swansea before the international break – ended the Bluebirds’ slim play-off hopes.

Erol Bulut’s one-year contract expires at the end of the season and the Bluebirds manager conceded that uncertainty over his future could be impacting on performances.

Bulut said: “It can be (affecting players). I don’t have any problems. I respect it from the board if they are not coming with a new offer.

“I’m focusing on my job until the end of the season. Until now we haven’t had any communication about that, so let’s see.”

On a poor performance, Bulut added: “During the international break, the players trained really well so I was expecting a much better game.

“To see that performance, it hurts. I have to be honest, from the 39 games we’ve played this season, this was one of the worst.”