SANTIAGO Vergini has earned a nod of approval from Dick Advocaat on the training ground this week, ahead of the defender’s expected recall for the Wear-Tyne derby.
Vergini is almost certain to return to the Sunderland starting XI for tomorrow’s visit of Newcastle United after Wes Brown was ruled out for several weeks with the knee injury he sustained at West Ham a fortnight ago.
Vergini has played a lot this season both at right-back and centre-back and he’s done okay in training this weekDick Advocaat
Brown, out of contract in the summer, could struggle to play again this season, with the 35-year-old potentially facing a six-week spell on the treatment table, albeit Sunderland’s medical staff are hopeful of a return sooner than that.
However, Vergini – who replaced Brown at Upton Park – has played alongside skipper John O’Shea on several occasions during his 15 months at the Stadium of Light and new Sunderland boss Advocaat has been pleased by the Argentine international’s contribution in training.
Advocaat told the Echo: “Wes’ injury is a big blow because you need that kind of experience.
“But he’s not here, so there’s no sense to discuss it.
“Vergini has played a lot this season both at right-back and centre-back and he’s done OK in training this week.”
The inclusion of Vergini is one of two obvious changes which Advocaat will make, with Lee Cattermole also returning to the side after a two-game suspension, likely to be at the expense of Jordi Gomez.
Sunderland’s longest-serving first-teamer has become an increasingly influential figure during recent seasons; proving to be a huge miss during his two-month absence through injury at the turn of the year.
And despite being at the helm for less than three weeks, Advocaat insists he is well aware of what Cattermole contributes to the side.
“I know Lee from watching the tapes,” he added.
“He’s the holding man and the controller of the team, and the passer as well.
“He’s a very important player for the team, with his experience, his touch and his aggression.
“It’s good for the team that he’s back.”
Meanwhile, winger Will Buckley could be back in the squad tomorrow after the winger’s return to training following more than two months on the sidelines with a knee injury.