GUS POYET insists he will bow to the expertise in Sunderland’s medical department to ensure Wes Brown can remain injury-free.
Brown has made a pivotal contribution to Sunderland’s defence since ending a horrific 22-month spell on the sidelines, with the Black Cats registering clean sheets in each of their last two games.
The former England international had suffered a series of setbacks on the comeback trail since sustaining a knee problem in January 2012’s FA Cup fourth round clash with Middlesbrough.
Brown broke down in successive pre-season campaigns as he attempted to return, yet came through two-and-a-half games unscathed last week after completing three weeks of full training at the Academy of Light.
Boss Poyet is understandably mindful of the importance of keeping Brown fit, given the boost he has injected into a defence that has conceded the most goals in the top flight this season.
But the head coach will delegate responsibility to Sunderland’s physios over whether the 34-year-old is given a lighter schedule on the training field.
Poyet said: “I respect the medical staff and when I got here, we had everyone fit which was impressive.
“I said to them that I’ll follow them. If they tell me that Wes needs a rest, then I’ll go with them.
“But we talk to the player and he has a big input into that as well.
“Whether it’s Wes, (Steven) Fletcher or Phil (Bardsley) – who have been the ones who’ve had the problems – it’s important to have that communication with them.”
Poyet believes Brown’s experience, as well as his quality, has also been crucial towards an upturn in Sunderland’s fortunes.
The Uruguayan has turned to the old heads in his squad during his opening five games at the helm, with the likes of Brown, Bardsley and Carlos Cuellar all brought back into the fold.
And until the January transfer window opens, Poyet believes that experience of previous relegation battles is invaluable for the Black Cats.
“Experience, strength and intelligence is what’s needed now,” added Poyet.
“People will think we need quality players and of course we do.
“But until January, we can only put out the best we’ve got and Wes is one of them.”