Sam Allardyce is open to the idea of using new signing Jan Kirchhoff as a midfield enforcer, with the centre-half comfortable in both positions.
Sunderland splashed out a modest £750,000 to bring Kirchhoff to the Stadium of Light this week to reinforce Allardyce’s scant options in the heart of his back four.
We’ve watched all those games and we feel that he can make a big impression in either position for usSam Allardyce
With Younes Kaboul sidelined until the end of next month, Kirchhoff is a timely arrival, with 36-year-old veteran Wes Brown starting the last two games, alongside Sebastian Coates and then John O’Shea.
But while Kirchhoff’s capture ends Allardyce’s hunt for a new central defender, the ex-Bayern Munich man could also be used as a midfield anchorman.
The 25-year-old played there during a loan spell at Schalke last season and, after watching footage of those games, Allardyce believes he has the option of using him there too.
Allardyce said: “Jan can play centre midfield as well as he can play centre-half.
“We’ve seen those two positions he’s played.
“At Mainz, where he was brought up, and at Bayern, he mostly played at centre-back.
“But at Schalke on loan last season, he played a lot as the anchorman in central midfield. We’ve watched all those games and we feel that he can make a big impression in either position for us.”
Kirchhoff will not be involved in today’s FA Cup third round tie at Arsenal, with his international clearance not processed before yesterday’s noon deadline.
He also needs to build up his match fitness after just one brief substitute’s outing for Bayern Munich in the German Cup this season.
Kirchhoff has just returned from his winter break with Bayern, too, and knows he needs to get up speed after such minimal game-time since last season’s loan spell at Schalke.
“I’m coming out of the winter break in Germany and had two training sessions with Bayern,” he said.
“I may need some time to get fit. But I’ll try to get on the pitch as fast as I can to help the team.”
Kirchhoff’s contract at Bayern was due to expire this summer and there had been interest from Bundesliga rivals Eintracht Frankfurt, VfB Stuttgart and Augsburg.
But Kirchhoff wanted to test himself in the Premier League after coming up against English opposition in the Champions League.
“I have always had the dream to play in the Premier League and be part of it,” he added to the club website.
“Now I’ve got the opportunity and chance to do this.
“I’ve grabbed it and I’ll try to be successful in this new country.”