SEBASTIAN COATES’ performance in the Tyne-Wear derby was as good as he has produced during more than three years in the Premier League, believes Gus Poyet.
On-loan Liverpool centre-half Coates had just 20 minutes notice that he was starting Sunday’s 1-0 win at Newcastle United after Anthony Reveillere’s withdrawal in the warm-up, yet produced by some distance the most assured display of his three outings in a Sunderland shirt.
Fellow Uruguayan Poyet recommended Coates to Liverpool before the defender arrived at Anfield in a £7million deal in the summer of 2011.
But the Sunderland boss says Coates’ contribution to a fourth successive derby victory arguably eclipsed anything the 24-year-old has produced for his parent club after struggling against Sergio Aguero in his previous game for the Black Cats.
“Being a fellow countryman from Uruguay, I wanted to give him a more normal game where he knew he was going to play and he could prepare,” said Poyet.
“At 1pm, I was expecting him to be on the bench and 10 minutes later, he was doing a circle with the subs, enjoying the atmosphere.
“But then he was in with an unexpected back four, and then after two minutes of the game, he got a yellow card.
“But I thought he was fantastic. People have even been saying it’s one of his best games in England.
“That shows how well we defend and how we organised we are.”
Coates is likely to be back on the bench for Boxing Day’s visit of Hull City, if Billy Jones is deemed fit enough to return to the fold after more than two months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.
But Poyet says Coates epitomised his oft-repeated saying that fringe players need to make the most of their opportunity when it comes along.
It was a similar situation with winger Will Buckley, who had a hand in Adam Johnson’s last-minute winner on Tyneside.
“Somehow it’s difficult to explain how every single player can be so important,” added Poyet.
“You can ask Sebber.
“Maybe before the game, people just thought he was there as a sub, but he helped us to win the game.
“I had a joke with Will Buckley yesterday because his first three or four touches in the game were terrible.
“Then he made a great header at the near post, which he’s never done for me in three years.
“He ran the whole length of the pitch and was calm enough to cushion it to Adam and then the one at the end was even better. The pass to Seb Larsson was outstanding.
“At the moment, it’s been difficult for him, but he’s a very important player for us. We have to reinforce that every single player is part of this situation.”