GUS POYET admits Emanuele Giaccherini has grown frustrated with his lack of first-team opportunities.
But the Italian international has not let that marginal role with Sunderland affect him on the training field and he will be given the chance to stake his claim by returning to the starting XI in tomorrow’s FA Cup fifth round clash with Southampton.
Giaccherini, linked with a string of clubs in Serie A during the January transfer window, has not appeared in the Premier League since New Year’s Day’s defeat to Aston Villa.
Poyet says he is struggling to find a role in the starting XI for the 28-year-old – a similar situation that the head coach faced before Christmas with Giaccherini’s fellow Italian Fabio Borini.
But Poyet says that is no slight on Giaccherini himself, with the form of Borini and Adam Johnson the main reason for the ex-Juventus man’s lack of opportunities.
Poyet said: “He’s not happy for sure, but he’s a professional.
“He trains more than anybody and he wants to run more than anyone else.
“I’m sure he’s desperate to have a chance.
“He will play tomorrow, but it’s been difficult for me.
“I think he’s deserved more minutes in the team, but for some reason, I can’t play him.
“It’s more me than him. It’s like the situation was with Borini.
“We’re trying to do things and there’s players in certain positions that I really like and I can’t use him in the manner I want to.
“Especially with the form of Borini and Jonno, it’s been difficult for him.”
Both Poyet and predecessor Paolo Di Canio experimented with using Giaccherini in the hole behind the striker – a position that the £6.8million summer capture favours.
But with the 4-3-3 system proving to be successful for Sunderland, Poyet and his staff are trying to develop Giaccherini as an alternative to Borini or Johnson on the flanks.
“If we’re playing 4-4-2, then he can play in front of the midfield and he wants to play more infield,” added Poyet.
“But I think the football in England and the way we’re playing, it’s more about wide players coming inside and creating chances.
“It depends on how you play.
“The best game I saw him play was West Ham away, where he was outstanding.
“He was always in the right place, making space and driving forwards. That’s how we’re trying to use him.”