FIT-AGAIN Ricky Alvarez can provide the attacking spark which Sunderland have been lacking, insists Gus Poyet.
Sunderland have averaged just a goal per game in their 12 Premier League outings.
But Black Cats boss Poyet hopes that under-used midfielder Alvarez will be the player to inject some potency into Sunderland’s ranks, with the Argentine international expected to make his return from injury in tomorrow’s visit of league leaders Chelsea.
Alvarez has featured just three times since arriving on loan from Inter Milan in the summer, but demonstrated his prowess in a promising substitute’s cameo in September’s stalemate against Swansea, before suffering a knee injury which has kept him out for the last two months.
Poyet said: “Ricky has different qualities and to have him back makes all the difference.
“He’s a pleasure to watch in training. He has been doing things this week and last in training that make you think he can be a really key player for us in the last third.
“That’s the most difficult part of football (the final third).
“You can plan things, but the opposition defends and at the end of the day it is the player on the pitch with the ball who needs to do the right thing.
“We are not connected – I cannot tell players ‘right, left, shoot’!
“But Ricky has the ability with the ball to do things that other players can’t and if we put him in those situations, he can make the difference and give us extra quality.
“That can influence the rest of the team as well.
“Sometimes when you are playing in a game, someone makes a tackle or makes some individual action and it brings everybody up.
“I think he is that type of player. Now, we need to use him well.”
Alvarez sat out last weekend’s stalemate at Leicester City after Sunderland’s medical team judged that the 26-year-old was not yet fit enough to feature.
But he has been back in full training this week and is likely to be among the substitutes tomorrow.
“The idea is to use him at the right times in the right games, home or away, depending on how we are going to play,” added Poyet.
“But we have to use him right.”
“If we are winning against Chelsea, we don’t want to bring on Ricky to defend!
“In that case, it would be better use him in the next game instead.”