Sunderland defender set for Arsenal test

Santiago Vergini
Santiago Vergini
Have your say

GUS POYET is eager for Santiago Vergini to continue his learning curve by making his full Premier League debut this weekend.

January signing Vergini impressed in Sunderland’s FA Cup fifth round victory over Southampton on Saturday, as fellow centre-half Wes Brown served the first game of his two-match suspension.

Both of Vergini’s starts for Sunderland have come in the FA Cup, with his only taste of Premier League action coming as a substitute when the Black Cats were reduced to 10 men against Hull City 10 days ago.

But with the banned Brown ruled out of Saturday’s trip to Arsenal, Vergini will continue alongside captain John O’Shea and Sunderland boss Poyet is eager for the Argentine international to experience the intensity of the Emirates.

Poyet told the Echo: “Santiago would have played last week against Manchester City if it hadn’t been postponed.

“But the idea is to give him the chance to start a league game, so he will probably play at Arsenal.

“I know him, I’ve seen him and he’s been training with us.

“I watched him in the games and he hasn’t had any problems.

“Now he needs to compete and experience being fouled, like what happened with (Nikica) Jelavic the other day against Hull.

“That’s great for him.

“With all these games postponed, we need everybody and I mean everybody.”

The postponement of last week’s trip to Man City means Brown will not return to action until the Capital One Cup final.

That leaves a four-week gap between competitive outings for the 34-year-old, who has managed to set aside his torrid injury record this season to make 18 appearances under Poyet.

But the Sunderland boss is not particularly concerned by the gap and believes Brown will be fine to feature at Wembley on Sunday, March 2.

Poyet added: “We thought he would be clear from suspension in five days. Now it’s going to be four weeks.

“But you can’t plan things like that, they just happen.

“I’m not worried about it. It’s just up to the others to show they are ready to play.”