GUS POYET believes Jermain Defoe will only get better after making his Sunderland debut at Spurs today.
New signing Defoe was thrown straight into the starting XI at his former club Spurs, despite a three-month gap since his last game for MLS outfit Toronto FC.
But there were encouraging signs from the England international, who had an early penalty shout turned down and won the free-kick from which Seb Larsson equalised.
Sunderland boss Poyet admitted he didn’t expect to keep Defoe on the field for 75 minutes, but believes the 32-year-old will reap the rewards of his first outing in red and white.
Poyet said: “I think he started brightly, he was sharp, and if he had got a penalty and scored, we would have been talking about a great debut.
“Unfortunately, the referee didn’t see what everybody else saw clearly.
“He was looking for his chance and I played him for a little bit longer than I expected.
“But he is going to get better and better and I am sure when he gets that first chance, first opportunity, it will go in the back of the net.
“I think it was a good start, and this was a great place for him to start playing for us.
Sunderland looked as if they were going to mark Defoe’s bow with a point after recovering from Jan Vertonghen’s third minute opener to level through a superb free-kick from Larsson.
Spurs had dominated possession in the second half, without really creating any clear-cut opportunities, but with two minutes to go, Christian Eriksen found the net with a pinpoint shot from the edge of the area.
“Yes, when the winning goal is so late , it hurts,” said Poyet.
“But it’s part of football.
“You need to be good all the time - until the last minute - not just for 88 minutes or 89 minutes.
“That’s the disappointing side.”
However, after switching to a 3-5-2 formation, Poyet was encouraged by the performance of his side in a new-look system.
Sunderland did create chances in the new set-up too, with Steven Fletcher spurning a glorious opportunity before Larsson’s equaliser and substitute Danny Graham having two great openings either side of Eriksen’s winner.
“For a new way of playing, away at White Hart Lane, we were doing quite alright, so it’s a shame that we didn’t get something from the game,” added Poyet.
“We started a new way of playing and the opposition scored from a deflected shot - not even a chance, just luck.
“Then you should get a penalty and you don’t, then Fletcher had a chance that nine times out of 10 he would score - unfortunately, this was the tenth time!
“Then we scored the goal, and at half time things looked quite bright.
“It was a new way of playing. It wasn’t easy to play three at the back and the way that we did it.
“In the second half we knew that Spurs would come and put us under pressure and put balls in the box and throw everything at us.
“I think the two chances from Danny Graham were good enough to put one in the back of the net.
“We keep on creating those chances, but we just need to make sure we score and then the rest will get better and better.”