PAOLO Di Canio has challenged Danny Rose to go out on a high and ensure his final performance in a Sunderland shirt this season is the one that keeps the club in the Premier League.
The Italian head coach coach is a big fan of the on-loan Spurs defender and believes the England Under-21 international can go far in the game.
But this weekend, in Sunday’s crunch game against Southampton, he wants the 22-year-old – who is ineligible for the final match of the campaign at Spurs next weekend – to concentrate only on giving his very best for the club which has given him a chance to announce himself as a player of genuine Premier League quality this season.
He told the Echo: “I took Danny to one side the other day to speak to him about the Southampton game.
“I call him ‘little Danny’ because we have Danny Graham here too and every time I say ‘Danny’ on the training ground they both turn around.
“So we have little Danny and big Danny and I called little Danny over to me and told him he had to focus on giving us his very best performance.
“I said to him that I know he has to go back to his club, but first he must make sure he works as hard as he possibly can this Sunday to give us a great performance.
“I said I know that Spurs is your parent club, but this is your mother club in a way, a family club, because it gave you the first real opportunity to show your quality as a real professional footballer.
“So I say to him, make sure you give us the sort of performance which acts as a ‘thank you’ to everybody here.
“You have had a fantastic season, Danny, but only because of this club – they gave you your chance to show how good you can be.
“Maybe against Southampton this weekend, you are as good as you can be, and you make sure you leave this club with everyone saying what a great professional you are.”
Rose will undoubtedly be giving his all for a club which he has suggested he would love to join long-term.
But it remains to be seen what the future holds for a player who is at a club renowned for playing transfer hard ball.
Sunderland lost out on fellow Spurs full-back Alan Hutton several seasons ago because the Black Cats refused to pay an inflated transfer fee for the Scotland international.
And if the Black Cats do chase Rose this summer, it is likely to be a long and protracted pursuit.
But, at this moment in time, that’s not an issue that Di Canio will be drawn on.
“I have not made any decisions over whether we will or will not pursue Danny, because we have not stayed up yet,” he said.
“I won’t look at that side of things until our future is clearer.
“But he is a fantastic footballer for us and we will have to see what happens in the future.
“The main thing is to ensure we get a performance from his this weekend that he and ourselves can be proud of.”