THE FORM of Sunderland’s midfield trio is currently restricting big money signing Jack Rodwell to a bit-part role, says Gus Poyet.
Rodwell has been on the bench for each of the last three games, with fellow summer capture Jordi Gomez preferred to the ex-Manchester City man.
The England international is yet to produce his best in a Sunderland shirt after his £10million move to the Stadium of Light, following just seven Premier League starts in two years at City.
But Sunderland boss Poyet says Rodwell is only out of the side because Gomez, Seb Larsson and Lee Cattermole have been performing well, not because his opinion of the 23-year-old has dipped.
Poyet told the Echo: “I’m trying to play Jack, but it’s difficult.
“The problem is not Jack, it’s Lee, Seb and Jordi.
“The day that Jack steps in, he needs to be at that level or better to give me a problem to pick the team for the next game.
“It’s very easy to say ‘he doesn’t play him, he doesn’t like him’.
“That’s not the case.”
Poyet feels it is a similar situation with winger Will Buckley – a player the Sunderland boss clearly likes after spending the January and summer transfer windows trying to secure a reunion with the ex-Brighton man.
Buckley has only started one of the last seven games, albeit both the £2.5m signing, plus Rodwell, are likely to feature over a hectic festive period.
Poyet added: “I love Bucka. He’s got something I don’t think we have, that flexibility to get up and down the pitch without people realising.
“That’s an asset for a team playing on the break, when you’ve got someone who can run so quick without an effort.
“There’s options and then I need to find the best team.”