SUNDERLAND have been urging Jack Rodwell to show more aggression, before the £10million summer signing crossed the line against Fulham.
Rodwell had shown encouraging signs in Sunderland’s new 3-5-2 system in the defeat at Tottenham nine days ago.
But the the ex-Manchester City midfielder’s tough start to life at Sunderland continued in Saturday’s FA Cup stalemate against Fulham after he was sent off for two yellow cards – the second coming for stupidly preventing the goalkeeper clearing the ball after he was fortunate not to receive a straight red for the first booking.
Head coach Gus Poyet was not too scathing of Rodwell though, revealing that he has been looking to see more bite from the 23-year-old.
Poyet said: “He’s trying, I cannot blame him.
“He’s being a bit more aggressive and I wanted to see that aggression from him.
“Maybe he went a little bit too far on Saturday.
“But I would prefer him to be like that than being relaxed in the game and letting the time go past.
“He’s trying, so we need to keep working on him.”
When asked when he expected to see Rodwell begin to blossom in a Sunderland shirt, Poyet was evasive, although he admitted that the team’s struggles have not helped the England international.
Poyet said: “It’s impossible to say. I cannot say a time. It’s something that needs to come with the way that we should be playing. There are things that the team needs to do better that we are not doing.”
Rodwell, suspended for this weekend’s crunch relegation clash against Burnley, will be available for the fourth round replay at Craven Cottage a week tomorrow.
And still being in the FA Cup was the crumb of comfort for Poyet from a desperately dull encounter against the Championship side after a weekend which saw a host of upsets.
“I think if you ask Chelsea, Man City, Tottenham and Southampton if they wanted to have a replay, they’d love it,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if it’s another game in 10 days time. I think we need to try to win the game.”
The draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup will take place tonight, live on BBC One, at around 7.20pm.