SANTIAGO Vergini has been recalled to the Argentina squad because of his attributes at centre-half, believes Gus Poyet.
Sunderland defender Vergini will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero after being named in the national squad for next month’s friendlies against Brazil and Hong Kong.
Although a centre-half by trade, Vergini has been principally used as a right-back by Sunderland during his two loan spells from Costa Rican outfit Club Sport Uruguay de Coronado.
But the 26-year-old shone in the heart of Sunderland’s back four during the second half of Tuesday’s Capital One Cup defeat to Stoke City; producing two eye-catching defence-splitting passes to put the Black Cats on the front foot.
Vergini was used at centre-half by new Argentina boss Gerardo Martino when they won the league title together in their homeland with Newell’s Old Boys in 2013.
And Poyet says ex-Barcelona manager Martino will be similarly keen to use Vergini – whose solitary cap for his country came in 2012 – in that position on the international stage.
Poyet told the Echo: “He was outstanding on the ball (against Stoke). There was a moment I wanted to give him the number 10 shirt, the way he was passing the ball through the lines!
“Santi has been picked by Argentina because of his ability at centre-half.
“He’s not going to go there and play right-back, because they have (Manchester City’s) Pablo Zabaleta to play there.
“The manager knows Santi very, very well, and that shows how important it is when a manager knows someone, just like when I spoke about Marcos Alonso, Fabio Borini, Ki Sung-Yueng, Jack Colback – players that we wanted to keep.
“You have worked with them daily, so you know how they train, how they behave, what they are going to give you and what they are not going to give you.
“When a new player comes in, maybe they look better but perhaps they don’t train so well or understand the way you want to play.
“Martino is doing the same with Santi, because he won the league in Argentina with Newell’s Old Boys with Santi at centre-half.
“Now he has seen him playing in Europe, in England, week-in and week-out, so it is common-sense to pick him.”
With on-loan Liverpool centre-half Sebastian Coates ruled out of today’s clash against Swansea with a thigh injury and Wes Brown a doubt with a calf problem, Vergini could remain alongside John O’Shea.
That is the position which Vergini considers to be his best one, although Poyet believes he offers plenty at right-back.
“If you ask Santi, he wants to play centre-half – there’s no doubt about that,” added Poyet.
“At the moment though, I am making the team and not Santi.
“But we know that if there is a problem he can always jump in there and give us a great hand.”
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