For details on how to contact our editorial and commercial departments, click here
Brown in Poyet's thinking for Sunderland's Wear-Tyne derby
WES BROWN has put himself in the frame for a first Premier League start in almost 20 months with Gus Poyet focused on finding a solution to Sunderland’s defensive nightmares this week.
After conceding another four goals in the defeat to Swansea City on Saturday, Sunderland head in to this Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby hurt from increasing their goals against tally to 20 in just eight matches.
Six of those to have beaten goalkeeper Keiren Westwood have arrived from set-pieces, with huge question marks over the Black Cats’ inability to clear their lines in the area.
Despite the summer arrivals of defenders Valentin Roberge, Modibo Diakite, Ondrej Celustka, Andrea Dossena and El-Hadji Ba, Sunderland have looked far weaker at the back than at any stage last season.
Poyet has spoken of the need to address the situation and hopes to introduce some continuity to a back four which has been ever-changing this season.
Given the weaknesses shown at the Liberty Stadium, it would be a monumental gamble from Poyet to stick with the same backline which collapsed against Swansea. Roberge and Phil Bardsley, who had not previously played since last season and pitched in at left-back, were particularly short.
Poyet has been analysing the performance in South Wales over the last 48 hours and has also seen re-runs of the Under-21s’ 2-2 draw with Chelsea, which took place at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Brown emerged through 90 minutes unscathed and looked assured alongside Diakite, so has put himself in contention for a long-awaited recall against Newcastle. He would partner former Manchester United team-mate John O’Shea at the heart of the defence.
The 33-year-old has not played since sustaining a knee injury in January 2012 and has had to abort a series of comeback attempts. His latest, after a productive pre-season, saw him make the substitutes bench against Arsenal in September but then suffered a calf injury.
Poyet will consider all his options in the build up to the Newcastle visit, although throwing Brown back in to the mix to add some much-needed top-flight experience is prominent in his thinking.
The new Sunderland manager also hopes to be the manager who inspires Adam Johnson back to his best on a more consistent basis.
Johnson has been up and down during his 14 months on Wearside and Sunderland’s drop to the foot of the Premier League has left his World Cup hopes in complete disarray.
The emergence of Andros Townsend at Tottenham has put Johnson further down the pecking order for an England shirt, but Poyet is determined to return the winger to the sort of form which made him a title winner at Manchester City.
“The closer Adam Johnson gets to finding his best form, the better we will be in the table,” said Poyet. “The two go together. He has to be one of the players who can win games for us.
“Not only providing but also scoring goals. It is up to us to put him in a situation where he has a chance of doing just that. We have to take advantage of his ability.
“If we put all that together, I am sure he is going to be close to the World Cup. To make the squad, a lot can depend on injuries, momentum and form. Right now, it is Townsend. At the moment, he is going to the World Cup.
“Of course, Townsend has to maintain that form from here to June and that is a long time. Many things can happen. But if I was an English player, I would work to make sure I have a chance.”
Hull City striker Danny Graham, on loan from Sunderland for the season, meanwhile, has been ruled out for around three weeks after sustaining a knee injury in the defeat to Everton on Saturday.
Comments are closed on this article.