GUS POYET admits January arrival Nacho Scocco is finding it tough to get up to speed with English football.
Scocco has failed to make an impact in his four appearances for Sunderland, with the Argentine international again struggling after coming off the bench in Saturday’s stalemate against Crystal Palace.
The 28-year-old had only just begun pre-season in Brazil when Sunderland splashed out £4million to bring him to the Stadium of Light during the transfer window.
Poyet expected it to take several weeks for Scocco to rediscover his match sharpess and had devised a fast-track programme with fitness coach Antonio Pintus to overcome that lack of pre-season.
But the Sunderland boss concedes Scocco has found it difficult to find the kind of form which saw him net 24 goals in 32 appearances for Argentine outfit Newell’s Old Boys last season.
Poyet told SportMail: “I think the situation with Nacho is more difficult than what we expected.
“When you are a foreigner and you come to a new country, you know that it might take a few weeks or months to adapt. We are all different.
“We tried to do a plan to make him sharper without losing the weekends. But it’s difficult.
“It’s difficult because there is a moment in the week when you need to slow down for the Saturday, so it’s only four days in seven that he’s able to train properly.
“My idea was to have him for the last 12 or 13 games as fit as possible. But it’s going to take time.”
With Steven Fletcher expected to be out for several weeks with a recurrence of the ankle injury which kept him out at the start of the season and Jozy Altidore netting just one Premier League goal all season, Poyet badly needs Scocco to make a contribution during the relegation run-in.
Poyet will have to decide between Altidore and Fabio Borini as his central striker for Saturday’s crunch visit to Norwich City, albeit using the latter would require a change on the left-hand side of midfield.
But the head coach has not given up hope of Scocco making an impact; insisting there have been signs of his potential on the training field.
Poyet added: “The quality is there. You see it every day and he is coming every now and then with a goal from nothing and people realise.
“Maybe, he needs a goal too and then everything will change. I’m going to use him the best I can.”