SUNDERLAND have consciously taken a cautious approach over Jack Rodwell’s involvement since his summer arrival from Manchester City, says Gus Poyet.
England midfielder Rodwell completed his first 90 minutes for Sunderland in last weekend’s draw at Burnley and was one of only four players retained in the starting XI for Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup defeat to Stoke.
The £10million signing has begun to show signs of shaking off the rust after starting just seven league games during two seasons at Man City, with the 23-year-old noticeably getting forward more against both Burnley, in last weekend’s goalless Premier League draw, and Stoke.
But Poyet says Sunderland have had to be careful with Rodwell after his fringe role at Manchester City, plus a series of hamstring problems at the Etihad.
The Sunderland boss told the Echo: “He’s willing to play all the time, but we know the problems he’s had in the past and we knew we had to do things slowly.
“Now we’re getting to the challenge of him maintaining that and giving us more.
“Depending on who plays wide, he can give us the presence in the box.
“He did that plenty at Burnley and that’s something we’re looking for him to give us.
“I know what people are going to think. Most of them only look at a player when they get in contact with the ball.
“Then they either play well or play bad.
“But for the defenders, it’s about positioning, aggression and reading the game, and that’s without the ball.
“And with Jack, in particular, he needs to give us some movement and penetration in the box at the right time.
“If it works, ask Chelsea about Frank Lampard last weekend...”
Meanwhile, Poyet expects to receive an injury boost for Saturday’s visit of Swansea City, with Connor Wickham, Steven Fletcher and Emanuele Giaccherini all expected to be available after missing the loss against Stoke through injury.
Wickham picked up a back problem on the morning of the game, while Fletcher (calf) and Giaccherini (ankle) were not risked.
But none of those injuries are expected to be serious and all should be available against the Swans.
However, on-loan Liverpool defender Sebastian Coates will be sidelined.
Coates lasted just 45 minutes of his Sunderland debut against Stoke before being replaced at the interval with a knock.