CRISTIAN RIVEROS should make his first Premier League start in a Sunderland shirt this afternoon, with manager Steve Bruce claiming the creative midfielder could become the latest South American to take English football by storm.

Lee Cattermole’s suspension, picked up for his opening-day sending off against Birmingham City, has provided Bruce with his first selection dilemma of the new season.

Riveros is high in the Sunderland chief’s thoughts to partner Jordan Henderson in the centre of midfield at West Bromwich Albion today, although Bolo Zenden offers another suitable alternative.

The Paraguayan international, who has 50 caps following his appearances at the World Cup, would usually be afforded more time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League.

But Bruce, who has made a name for himself for helping to turn the likes of Wilson Palacios, Maynor Figueroa and Antonio Valencia into household names in Europe, is confident Riveros will not need too long to come to terms with football on these shores.

“Riveros might have to start at West Brom,” said Bruce. “He has great pedigree and had a fantastic World Cup. He has trained with the players all week. He is something different and can score a goal.

“He is something different to what we had last year with Cattermole and Lorik Cana.

He is a good footballer. He is a passer who wants to get in the box and score a goal or two.”

Riveros, who doesn’t speak English, was a substitute against Birmingham, playing the last 27 minutes as Sunderland let slip a two-goal lead in their opening fixture of the new campaign.

But Bruce, knowing his compatriot Paulo Da Silva has taken almost a full year to come to terms with the English game, is satisfied it will be easier for Riveros, even if Argentine defender Marcos Angeleri is still short of fitness and making his bow.

“Cristian had heard all about the Premier League, and he thought ‘wow’ after playing his part against Birmingham,”

said Bruce, who was also impressed with Egyptian debutant Ahmed Elmohamdy last weekend.

“It was difficult for him because we only had ten men on the pitch.

“I sincerely hope he has the same impact as Valencia and Palacois – that is why we have brought him here.

“It is going to take time for people who’ve come from Egypt and Paraguay, and all around the place.

“I was delighted with what I saw last week in terms of the shape and the way the team lined up.

“All of them I’ve taken over have taken six months. I’m hoping Cristian can get started quick but it’s difficult. He said afterwards how fast he thought it was, even compared to the World Cup. There’s an intensity about our game that takes some getting used to.”

Whatever team Bruce puts out at West Brom today – and he is still without the suspended Michael Turner and John Mensah is suffering from a groin problem –he is looking for evidence that improvement will be made on last season’s away record in the Premier League.

Sunderland won just twice on their travels last season, losing 13 times. He said: “I certainly hope we are better equipped away from home. We were a young side last week and I have tried to make sure we have gone down that route.”

“I hope we are better equipped to handle things away from home this season.

Our young average age is something I am conscious of but you still need a bit of experience.

It looks healthier.”

West Brom finished behind Newcastle United in the Championship promotion race and were thumped at Chelsea last weekend.

Bruce expects Sunderland to look the stronger, even if he knows he can’t afford to taking anything for granted.

“It is an opportunity for us against a team that just got promoted, but you never take a promoted team lightly in their first home game.”