GUS POYET admits Wes Brown is the most natural defender at his disposal, with the former England international pencilled in to continue his comeback against Manchester City tomorrow.
Brown made his first competitive start since January 2012 in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup victory over Southampton after appearing as a half-time substitute in last weekend’s defeat at Hull City.
Sunderland are yet to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League this season after conceding 22 goals in just 10 top flight games.
But head coach Poyet believes that the return of Brown is a major boost to Sunderland’s defensive strength, with the 34-year-old expected to continue alongside former Manchester United team-mate John O’Shea against Man City tomorrow.
Poyet told the Echo: “Wes reads the game better than anyone.
“I don’t want to be unfair to John, Carlos (Cuellar) or the rest of the defenders.
“But he reads the game so well and can see things happening.
“He’s comfortable on the ball as well. He made us play a lot against Southampton.”
Brown has been in full training for the past three weeks after suffering yet another injury setback during pre-season.
Given his horrific injury record over the past 21 months, Poyet was initially wary of asking Brown to play a third game in eight days this weekend.
But after watching Brown complete 90 minutes against Southampton and then come through training unscathed yesterday, Poyet says his concerns have waned.
“When I came here, he was training a couple of days and resting for one,” added Poyet.
“But now he’s been training every day for the last three weeks and that shows that he’s getting fitter and fitter.
“That’s why he’s come into the games.
“My only worry was after he’s played one or two games, how is he going to recover?
“But when I saw him yesterday morning, he was perfectly fine and that’s a great feeling.
“The idea is to maintain that.
“It’s a decision tomorrow, but the other day was a perfect one to play 90 minutes after 45 at Hull.
“People will talk about the Southampton team, but Jay Rodriguez is in the national team. It was not like he was playing against kids.
“It was challenging, he had runs and decisions to make, but he came through fine.”