Sunderland boss Paolo di Canio defended Ji Dong-won after hooking him during their Capital One Cup win over MK Dons.
Di Canio has urged fans to get off the South Korea striker's back.
"He's a very good quality player but it is difficult for him to play in this environment where every mistake causes a reaction.
"I understand how the fans fell because I was fan once.
"But I cannot fault his attitude - he gives everything in training and he's technically a very good player - and I need to build his belief.
"This wasn't a good game for him and he knows that as a striker he has to hold on to the ball better and look to play it simple.
"But he could still be an important player for us."
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