PAOLO Di Canio has predicted a glittering future for Danny Rose as he prepares to play his final game for Sunderland this season.
The 22-year-old full-back is ineligible to face parent club Tottenham on the last day of the campaign because of the terms of his loan agreement, and will therefore say his farewells after Sunday’s vital Barclays Premier League clash with Southampton at the Stadium of Light.
Rose has intimated his willingness to consider a permanent move to Wearside and the Black Cats, as they were under Martin O’Neill, are desperate to secure his services despite indications from White Hart Lane that he will not be available this summer.
But whatever the colour of the shirt the England Under-21 international is wearing once the new season gets underway, Di Canio has seen enough to believe he will make a big impact in the game - as long as he continues to improve as he has done this season.
He said: “He’s our player at the moment. Sunday will be his last game and then we will see. I don’t want to talk about the future because we have to focus on the next game.
“In my opinion, he can improve a lot defensively. He’s an attacking-minded left-back, but he has to improve a lot defensively.
“He’s got a great future in front of him. He’s a powerful guy. The strength and elasticity he’s got mean he can run forward with the ball and beat people easily.
“It’s obvious he can play at the top level, but everybody has to improve.
“People have to realise there are two phases in the game – possession ball and non-possession ball. It’s crucial to be good in both situations.
“I don’t want to say he’s not very good when we’re not in possession of the ball, but he can improve a lot. He can improve the timing of his tackling and he needs to learn when and how to be aggressive.
“But everybody can improve, and he’s only 22.
“It’s easy to talk about his quality, but if we don’t tell him he has to improve, he’s probably never going to.”
Rose has been a big hit at the Stadium of Light and few supporters would argue if the club pushed the boat out to try to sign him this summer despite a general acceptance that that may be intensely difficult to achieve.
He scored his first goal for the club in the 6-1 Barclays Premier League drubbing at Aston Villa last Monday evening and, while it may have been a black night for Sunderland, his intervention, which levelled the scores at 1-1, left Di Canio drooling.
The Italian said: “To be honest, you can see how easy he finds it to beat an opponent. He makes it look easy, but it’s very difficult to do as he did in the last two games.
“His goal against Aston Villa was like one you might see from the Barcelona left-back.
“He has a natural way to run with the ball through traffic and deliver the ball to the back post.”
Di Canio will hope his side can finally end its relegation fears by beating the Saints this weekend, particularly with the selection headache he faces seven days later.
Striker Steven Fletcher and skipper Lee Cattermole were ruled out for the rest of the season through injury several weeks ago, and Craig Gardner’s red card against Stoke means he will join Stephane Sessegnon on the suspended list.
With Rose also missing, that means Di Canio will be unable to call upon five first-choice players for an already difficult trip to high-flying Spurs.