NEW SIGNING Anthony Reveillere was the pick of the defenders available on the Bosman market, insists Sunderland boss Gus Poyet.
Former France international Reveillere agreed a deal until the end of the season with Sunderland yesterday after impressing during a week-long trial at the Stadium of Light.
Injuries to Billy Jones and Sebastian Coates had left Sunderland with just four first-team defenders available, forcing the Black Cats to look for a free agent who could provide some short-term cover.
And after Poyet and sporting director Lee Congerton explored a number of options, right-back Reveillere – who left Napoli at the end of last season – was the outstanding available candidate.
Poyet told the Echo: “We looked at a few different options, but I think that straightaway, because of his pedigree and the way he plays, Anthony was always our first choice.
“We knew we were already a bit short and as soon as Billy got injured, that was the final confirmation that we needed to look at options to bring in a player.
“After analysing the market with Lee Congerton and company, we decided that Anthony was the best option.
“We were lucky to convince him to come with us.”
Poyet knew there was no issue with Reveillere’s experience – he has played more than 300 games in the French top flight for Lyon and Rennes before joining Napoli on a one-year deal in 2013.
The head coach’s only reservation was over Reveillere’s fitness, with the 34-year-old having been without a club since May.
But, while Reveillere lacks match sharpness, he has been maintaining his conditioning while a free agent and finished close to Sunderland’s top performers in a fitness test on Monday.
“There are no doubts about his quality, his ability or his understanding of the game, it was just the fact that he has not played since May,” said Poyet.
“That’s why he trained with us, so that we could see him – and it was good for him as well, so he could come here and see the players and where he was coming.
“I’m happy because he is a great option and he has a lot of experience. He knows the game and has played in France and Spain and Italy.
“Of course the Premier League is a new experience, but he knows the game and that is the most important thing.
“He has been working hard on his fitness in his time with us, and the only thing he lacks now is football fitness – match fitness.”
Sunderland are still awaiting international clearance from the Italian FA for Reveillere, but the Black Cats have until tomorrow for that to be processed so he can feature against Arsenal.
Presuming Reveillere is eligible to make his Sunderland debut, he is likely to be on the bench, although Poyet has not ruled out the prospect of throwing him into deep end.
Asked whether it would be a problem to include him in the starting XI, Poyet said: “I don’t think it would be.
“But he probably wouldn’t last the 90 minutes, depending on the game.
“We don’t have international clearance yet, so at the moment we are planning without him.
“We will wait for the clearance first.”