SUNDERLAND will have a different attacking dimension with forward-thinking full-backs Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt in the side, says Gus Poyet.
Summer signing Jones impressed on his Premier League debut for Sunderland in last weekend’s stalemate against Swansea and is likely to keep his place against Stoke City tomorrow, despite the return to fitness of Wes Brown.
In Jones and fellow new boy van Aanholt, Poyet has two full-backs at his disposal who are just as comfortable – if not more so – in an attacking sense as they are defensively.
But, with a defensive midfielder an integral part of Poyet’s 4-1-4-1 formation, the Sunderland boss believes there is sufficient protection for his back four to make the most of the attacking assets of his full-backs.
Poyet told the Echo: “It’s something which you wouldn’t necessarily pick at first.
“But it was incredible how we changed our way of playing at Brighton when the two full-backs became attacking players.
“We knew that they became very important.
“The centre-midfielder, either Lee Cattermole or Liam Bridcutt, is so important. You play better or worse depending on them.
“But having those two full-backs will help us a lot.”
There were immediate signs against Swansea that Jones can form an effective right-wing partnership with ex-Brighton man Will Buckley, with Poyet keen to develop that double act.
“Yes, they both think it’s natural,” said Poyet.
“They trained a few sessions together of course, but you need to see it in a game – three o’clock, and it was a difficult game as well.
“If you want to start a league game as a full-back, Swansea is not the right team to play against to deal with their two wingers.
“But we were so good in our organisation and pressing that it made his (Jones’s) ideas very easy.”
Poyet could take what would be a surprising decision and reinstate Santiago Vergini to right-back tomorrow, with Brown shaking off the calf injury which kept him sidelined against Swansea.
Vergini thrived at centre-half last weekend, but had spent the previous four top-flight outings at right-back.
“Wes is back, but I like that problem. You know me,” added Poyet. “I’d prefer to have everything alright during the week and then pick the team.
“I think I know the team, but I like to wait until the last training session sometimes.”
Although Brown is back fit, fellow centre-half Sebastian Coates remains on the treatment table with a calf problem, while Emanuele Giaccherini is still a big doubt tomorrow due to an ankle injury.
Sunderland have not lost a Premier League game at home to Stoke – the last league loss to the Potters on Wearside coming 13 games ago in 1993/94.