Sunderland’s Fabio Borini could be limited to substitute’s role against Spurs

Fabio Borini.
Fabio Borini.
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Fabio Borini’s second coming at the Stadium of Light this weekend may not necessarily be as a member of the starting line-up.

Sunderland boss Dick Advocaat is refusing to let the hype surrounding Borini’s return to Wearside affect his judgement after the ex-Liverpool striker completed a £7.75million move 12 days ago.

Borini was limited to just four Premier League starts at Liverpool last season and was frozen out during pre-season, with the Italian forced to train away from the rest of the first-team squad with fellow unwanted players Mario Balotelli and Jose Enrique.

The 24-year-old has been able to top up his fitness at the Academy of Light since his Sunderland move and featured in a behind-closed-doors game against Hartlepool United last week.

But Advocaat has warned that after Borini played such a limited role at Liverpool last season and remains short on fitness, he shouldn’t be considered a certain-starter against Spurs on Sunday.

Advocaat told the Echo: “Borini is in the squad, but he hasn’t played regularly for a year.

“Everybody is talking about him, but how long ago is that?”

Advocaat was equally coy over which position he plans to use Borini in, albeit he played centrally in the Hartlepool friendly.

The Italian international spent the vast majority of his season-long loan at Sunderland two years ago under Gus Poyet as a left-sided forward, even though he wanted to play as a central striker.

But Advocaat had been looking for a centre-forward for his favoured 4-3-3 system prior to the transfer deadline after deciding that Jermain Defoe was unable to play as a lone striker.

Advocaat added: “Borini did not play here as a central striker, he played on the left-hand side.

“He’s only been here for a week. We still have to find out in training and in games to find the right balance and how to use him.

“It’s not a matter of just putting strikers in. It’s the balance of the team.

“And because the majority of the signings arrived late, we don’t know that yet.”