AS MUCH as Michael Beale was excited by the signing of Romaine Mundle, Sunderland's head coach anticipated the winger's lack of football in the first half of the season with Standard Liege meant time would be required before the Black Cats started to see the best of the former Tottenham youngster.

Beale has quickly changed his mind.

Mundle has only been at Sunderland a week but has already made it crystal clear to his new boss that he doesn't intend to waste any time.

"He wants to play and he wants to play now - he's shown that in training," said Beale.

He's shown it in a match environment too. Mundle got an hour under his belt for the Under-21s on Monday night in the win over Bristol City and looked sharp and exciting and he's already "right at the front" of Beale's thoughts.

"He's surprised me," admitted the head coach.

"He hasn't played much football so I was probably of the opinion that it was going to take a bit of time, but having watched him in training I think his intention is completely different.

"The first impression has been very good. I saw the game on Monday and he showed a bit of what he can bring, I think he'd prefer to play off the left but he can also play through the middle or off the right. We're going to have to come up with a few things that surprise the opponent between now and the end of the season and he certainly comes into that."


Mundle might be most comfortable playing off the left but opportunities on that flank might be hard to come by between now and the summer, for that is the position currently occupied by Jack Clarke, one of the league's most feared widemen.

The arrival of Mundle prompted inevitable suggestions that he's a long term replacement for Clarke, but Beale doesn't want to think about that for now and would rather focus on how to get the best of his army of forward players.

"The thing is, Jack has been so strong that there is a bus queue of people who'd like to play there. I think Abdoullah (Ba) would if you asked him, certainly Romaine would, Adil (Aouchiche) could as well," said Beale.

"What we're really good at as a club is giving young players an opportunity and what we need in return is a lot of responsibility - in terms of how they train, live and what they bring to our environment.

"Romaine is a different player to Jack, he's more explosive and more of a runner off the ball than Jack. Let's not talk about losing Jack, I'm glad that window is closed and he's here.

"I'd like to think they could play together and that's the challenge for our attacking players - can we find the right balance defensively so you can all play together?

"It sounds great and I see all the teams picked outside this building, but the balance would be the concern.

"If they can all contribute out of possession with our pressing, there's no reason why you couldn't play Jack, Romaine, Abdoullah, Adil behind a striker. That's an exciting thought, but maybe for both teams, so we'll see."

Sunderland are looking to extend their unbeaten stretch to three games when Plymouth visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow, with Argyle having played a gruelling 120 minutes in their FA Cup defeat to Leeds in midweek.

Beale said: "They have done really well and they're a dangerous team. They score a lot of goals, certainly at home and I thought over their two games with Leeds they have done well, but the game slipped away from them late on.

"It'll be a tough challenge. I think we're at that stage of the season now where everyone's playing for something."