Veteran defender Wes Brown will be restricted to a bit-part role with Sunderland this season, Dick Advocaat has confirmed.
Brown was handed a one-year contract extension by Advocaat during the summer, yet he was not part of the squad for Sunderland’s opening day defeat at Leicester, despite being fit and available.
We’re only going to use him if we really need him.
The 35-year-old and former Manchester United team-mate John O’Shea have been Sunderland’s first-choice central defensive pairing over the last two seasons, but Advocaat opted to start the campaign with summer arrivals Younes Kaboul and Sebastian Coates.
The new boys both struggled in the 4-2 defeat against the Foxes - albeit they were offered little protection - with captain O’Shea in contention to return to the starting XI for this weekend’s opening Stadium of Light encounter against Norwich.
But Brown is unlikely to come back into the frame, with head coach Advocaat making the ex-England international aware that he will only be used if necessary.
Advocaat told the Echo: “Wes has a different role this season.
“We’re only going to use him if we really need him.
“But he’s fit, yes.”
The only other option available to Advocaat at centre-half is highly-rated youngster Tom Beadling, who trained with the first-team throughout pre-season.
Sunderland are understood to be reluctant to let Beadling out on loan at this stage of the campaign, with an outside chance that he could be involved with the first-team - probably in the Capital One Cup.
But Beadling - who impressed for the Under-21s earlier this week - is progressing, with development coach Robbie Stockdale seeing the 19-year-old’s improvement from his time spent with Advocaat’s squad.
“He’s got ability Tom,” said Stockdale.
“I would like to see him be a bit more aggressive and assertive on the pitch with his talking.
“But he’s always had a clean pass on him. It’s his defending that I go on to him about improving.
“He’s working hard at it though.
“I think it just makes you a bit more street-wise training with the first-team.
“Some of the balls he thinks he can win at Under-21 level, he can’t win at first-team. It’s the dark arts and being street-wise.”