MAKESHIFT central midfielder Danny Rose may be asked to continue in the role tomorrow night.
There has been speculation in recent weeks over whether the on-loan Spurs left-back should be moved further upfield to utilise his attacking talents.
In particular, there has been talk about whether the 22-year-old has the energy and ability to flourish in a central midfield role.
And manager Martin O’Neill was prepared to experiment at the weekend, putting the England Under-21 international into midfield, in the closing stages against Chelsea, where he flourished as Sunderland sought in vain for something out of the match.
The Black Cats’ boss will give his team selection for the vital game against Reading intense consideration but has not ruled out putting Rose into central midfield again at some stage.
“Danny has been splendid since his arrival and is getting better,” he said.
“As his fitness improves, I think he is very capable of playing him in central midfield, it’s just that he had done very well at left-back.
“Danny has been excellent since his arrival this summer and he is improving.
“But the great thing from our point of view is that he wants to remain at the football club and he’s also aware that, at Spurs, he might not play as often as he does here..
“The players have taken to him and the crowd have taken to him – rightly so because he has been outstanding.
“I always thought he had potential and he’s showing it.”
Rose wasn’t the only one to play positively in a game which saw both wingers sparkling at time and striker Connor Wickham producing an eye-catching display in his first Premier League start in 12 months.
O’Neill said: “Adam Johnson showed us signs against Chelsea of what a player he is.
“He was prepared to run at Ashley Cole and he also got a great goal, which I’m sure will do his confidence good.”
They will need every ounce of their confidence for a game against Reading tomorrow night which is likely to be a real war of attrition.
“It’s a tough fight for us at the moment,” said O’Neill.
“A really tough fight.
“But I never expected anything else.
“We had some fantastic results last season and it seemed, by mid-February, that we had calmly taken ourselves out of the relegation zone, but I never saw it like that.
“I saw it as a fight and the same applies now.
“But we’ve got enough talent and enough self-belief to get ourselves out of trouble.
“This is a time to stand together.
“The crowd here have seen difficult days before and they are naturally anxious and frustrated.
“I’ve never been one to ask the crowd to do something that is against their will.
“It is up to them to support the team the way they like, but they stayed with us against Chelsea and the players afterwards were remarking on the support they got from the crowd and what a boost it is to them.”