INJURY-HIT Sebastian Coates was fit when he signed for Sunderland on transfer deadline day, insists Gus Poyet.
Coates has featured for just 45 minutes in a Sunderland shirt since arriving on a season-long loan from Liverpool, with the Uruguayan confined to the treatment table since his debut in last month’s Capital One Cup defeat to Stoke City.
The 24-year-old missed the bulk of last season with cruciate knee ligament damage, but his current problem is not related, with a troublesome thigh muscle causing him pain when he performs certain movements.
Coates’ absence – coupled with a hamstring injury to Billy Jones – has left Sunderland boss Poyet with just four fit defenders available.
But Poyet says there was nothing to predict that Coates would be facing a sustained absence when he underwent his medical prior to signing, and during his first few days on the training field.
Poyet told the Echo: “I think the problem with Seba is what the injury is.
“It’s something very unique in a part of muscle which is under another muscle.
“He was fit when he arrived. If you saw him in training for the first few days he was very, very good.
“He was running with Antonio (Pintas, Sunderland fitness coach) and we were really impressed, it was a kicking action that was hurting him then.
“But when he was running he didn’t have any problems.
“It’s unfortunate for him being Uruguayan, being my first Uruguayan signing, it was always important to make sure he was all right.”
Sunderland’s threadbare defensive options were highlighted in last weekend’s 8-0 rout at Southampton, when midfielder Liam Bridcutt was introduced at right-back for the second half and endured a torturous afternoon.
Out-of-contract former France international Anthony Reveillere joined Sunderland on trial last week after being released by Napoli during the summer, and the Black Cats are due to decide whether to hand the 34-year-old a short-term contract before the end of the week.
But even if he does sign, Reveillere is clearly short on match fitness.
And with fellow right-back Jones sidelined for around another week, Poyet may have little choice than to go back to the the back four who started at Southampton for this weekend’s visit of Arsenal.