Sunderland’s Jack Rodwell backs old pal West Brom boss Irvine

Sunderland's Jack Rodwell.

Sunderland's Jack Rodwell.

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JACK RODWELL has backed new West Brom boss Alan Irvine to be a success at the Hawthorns - after Saturday’s Premier League curtain raiser.

Irvine was a surprise appointment as Pepe Mel’s successor this summer after returning to front line management for the first time since he was sacked as Sheffield Wednesday boss in February 2011.

But new Sunderland midfielder Rodwell knows Irvine well after working with the Scot at former club Everton, where he was the long-time assistant to then manager David Moyes.

And although Rodwell is desperate for Sunderland to deny Irvine a winning start to his Baggies tenure, he does believe the Midlands club have made a good appointment.

Rodwell said: “I know Alan Irvine pretty well. I was breaking through the first team when he was the assistant manager at Everton and he was also the academy director when I was there.

“He is a good manager and I think he’ll do well at West Brom, but hopefully not in the first game!”

Irvine is not the only familiar face for Rodwell at the Hawthorns after ex-Manchester City and Everton team-mate Joleon Lescott joined West Brom on a free transfer this summer.

But Lescott has been ruled out of this weekend’s game through injury and Rodwell admits he would have liked to come up against the England international.

He said: “Joleon and I had good times together. We played together at Everton and at City.

“He is a very good guy and it would have been good to score against him. “He’ll have to just watch from the sidelines and congratulate me after the game!”

With Lescott’s fellow central defender Gareth McAuley also expected to miss the visit of Sunderland, Black Cats boss Gus Poyet will be eager for Rodwell to look for holes in the makeshift West Brom back-line.

Poyet splashed out £10million on Rodwell in the hope that the England international would thrive in a box-to-box midfielder role.

Rodwell himself wants to offer more of an attacking threat after netting just six league goals in his senior career.

The 23-year-old added: “One of the things the manager said was that he wants someone who can get forward and score goals.

“Me and Seb (Larsson) or whoever else plays there have got to chip in as much as possible.

“I like to get up and down and like to get forward, but don’t ignore the defensive duties either – I used to play cente-half when I was younger, anyway.

“I think that comes natural to me. For me it’s about getting forward now and scoring some goals.”