GUS POYET says he had already decided to hand Fabio Borini a starting chance before reports emerged questioning the Italian’s limited opportunities at Sunderland.
On-loan Liverpool forward Borini made only his third Black Cats start in Saturday’s stalemate at Aston Villa and went desperately close to netting his second Sunderland goal when his header crashed against the crossbar.
The Italian international’s agent, Marco de Marchi, insisted last week that he wanted January talks with Liverpool over Borini’s lack of football at the Stadium of Light, amid suggestions that the 22-year-old could be recalled by the Merseysiders in the transfer window.
Poyet shrugged off those reports and said he wanted to speak to de Marchi himself after labelling Borini the unluckiest player at the club for not featuring more.
And the head coach has now revealed that Borini was already aware he was going to start at Villa Park, before his agent spoke with the Italian media.
“I was surprised that he didn’t talk to his agent,” said Poyet.
“Because when his agent, sent out that message, Fabio knew already he was playing. They are obviously not in contact very much!
“But it’s been a matter of keeping him ready.
“He was probably the player who was not playing here who deserved to play.
“We need to find the right balance and Villa was the perfect game for him to play in.”
Borini had been withdrawn before the hour in his first two starts for Sunderland and was again hauled off before the end at Villa, with Adam Johnson replacing the Italian for the final 15 minutes.
Poyet admits Borini, who is likely to keep his place for tomorrow’s Stadium of Light clash with his former club Chelsea, was not impressed by being removed.
But the Uruguayan says he admires Borini’s attitude and determination to make an impression.
“He was not happy when I changed it, but I like that, I absolutely love that,” added Poyet.
“But we needed a bit more freshness in the legs to go the other way because we were going backwards.”