IGNACIO Scocco today starts his quest for full match fitness and form in a bid to boost Sunderland’s Premier League season.
The January signing has been held in reserve by Gus Poyet until this afternoon’s FA Cup tie against Southampton, having arrived in England last month still effectively at the start of his pre-season.
But after weeks of intensive fitness work, the Argentine attacker this weekend begins a crash course in English football with Sunderland’s head coach hoping that he might get “10 good games” out of the 28-year-old by the end of the season.
“We have been able to see the difference in him this week between a Tuesday session and a Thursday session, so that’s a really good sign that he is getting there.
“When he first came to Sunderland we spent several days almost killing him with training, training, training because we did not know whether or not we would need him to play in the last few minutes in the game against Newcastle United.
“In the end, we did not, and after that we decided to ease back a little.
“We didn’t want to throw him in straight away and maybe get 15 games from him but games where he wasn’t really ready.
“We would rather have tried to train him properly and maybe hope to get 10 good games out of him because we want to use him when he has more of a chance to be effective.
“He didn’t play against Newcastle and then he could have played in an Under 21 game the other week but then when we saw how youthful the opposition was going to be, we didn’t think that was worth it.
“Instead we have been building him up and working on him and we are seeing good signs.
“But the first game this weekend will be a challenge, he will get an insight into English football, into how tough it is to play in and how fast it is.
“In that sense, he will only learn by playing, but at least now we have been working on his fitness to the level where he can be more competitive.”
Poyet now hopes that £3m signing Scocco can now begin to shine in England and add a much-needed dimension to Sunderland’s attack.
“He is a player who can do things for us creatively that we have not really had enough of this season.
“He’s someone who, when games are really tight, can produce something a bit different, a bit special which can unlock any defence.
“We have no idea how long it will be before we start to see the best of him but we feel he is ready enough now to be involved and hopefully we can use him more and more in the weeks ahead.”
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