GUS Poyet says new £4m signing Nacho Scocco holds the key to unlocking the most stubborn of defences.
But Sunderland’s boss says he will have to be eased into Premier League action as the club works on his fitness.
The 28-year-old joined Sunderland last week from Brazilian side Internacional but was still in pre-season training in a country where the football season runs from May until early December.
He was fit enough to be included on the bench at the weekend – ready to be used in case of emergency.
But with Sunderland winning the game comfortably, he was allowed a watching brief in the 3-0 victory at St James’ Park.
And Poyet decided against throwing him into another North East derby 48 hours later – the Under 21 development squad’s local clash with the Tynesiders on Monday at a bitterly cold Stadium of Light.
Poyet is aware Scocco will need to be eased into games to build up his match fitness, and will also need time to adapt to a very different style of play in England.
But the Black Cats head coach believes the skilful Argentina international will bring an attacking flair that Sunderland have lacked up front for much of the season.
“Scocco is a different one because he’s got that quality to get between the lines,” Poye said.
“We need to take it slowly with him because he’s not played much.
“He’s coming from a pre-season in Brazil so he needs games.
“So if I get the chance, I’m going to give him time.
“We need to give him, football, football, football but we will manage him in a different way.
“Obviously want him involved as soon as possible but his fitness is a factor though and his impact will be progressive.”
Ironically, Sunderland have rediscovered their ‘goalden’ touch in the wake of Scocco’s arrrival, having scored 10 times in their last four league games.
But before that, the Black Cats had been averaging less that a goal a game as they failed to find the X factor to break down well-organised opposition.
And with Steven Fletcher set to be sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury for some time Poyet believes Scocco’s arrival could hardly be more timely.
Scocco arrived on Wearside last week to watch Sunderland labour to an important 1-0 victory over Stoke City before putting pen to paper the next day on a two-and-a-half year deal.
And Poyet believes that is the sort of game in which the new arrival would have been ideal.
“Last week against Stoke, when they only had 10 men, he would have been perfect,” said Poyet.
“We could have put him in there up front and made the difference, but unfortunately he wasn’t there.
“He’s a clever, tricky player, good with the ball at his feet and he can be so dangerous on the attack.
“Stoke would have been much more wary about coming out in the way they did and with him playing and Stoke stretched he could easily have got us a goal or set one up.”