SUMMER recruit Patrick van Aanholt is a Premier League work in progress Gus Poyet admits.
And the Black Cats’ head coach says the club is working overtime to get him used to Sunderland’s style of play.
The 24-year-old was a late signing from Chelsea in the wake of Sunderland’s pursuit of first-choice left-back Marcos Alonso failing to come off
And Poyet is determined to get the best out of a pacey, attacking defender who was good enough to be on the Blues’ books for the past five years but has yet to fulfill his potential.
The £1.5m defender has played all three of Sunderland’s Premier League games so far and while he has looked sharp and dangerous going forward he still looks raw at times defensively.
And Sunderland are determined to ensure he adjusts to the Black Cats’ pattern of play, with and without the ball, as quickly as possible.
Poyet said: “The relationship that we’ve created with the rest of the players from last year to this one and the way we’re going to work from zero with him, allows us to have a relationship with Patrick like he’s been here for a while.
“He is fitting into a group of players who already know a lot about how we as coaching staff want the club to play and now the challenge for him is getting used to a few things that we do.
“That was why Marcos was the first option, because we wouldn’t have started from zero with him.
“With Pat, we’re starting from zero.”
Apart from time spent at Chelsea, where he made a handful of first-team appearances, van Aanholt has Premier League experience from brief loan spells at Newcastle United and Wigan Athletic - neither of which particularly worked out.
But Poyet hopes the young defender’s time at Sunderland will be the making of him.
“There’s things he needs to do all the time and that’s the mentality we create in training,” said the Uruguayan.
“In one training session a week ago, I stopped it because of Patrick and said ‘here, every day, every single ball, whether you are ill or not’.
“He needs to get into that mentality and it takes time.
“Some people get it in two days, some take three months.
“There isn’t a right or wrong amount of time in which to get it, you just have to hope it clicks quickly.”
One of the challenges van Aanholt faces says Poyet - who has been happy to start the Dutchman in Sunderland’s opening Premier League games - is adjusting to the demands of the English game, with the defender having spent the previous 18 months on loan to Vitesse Arnhem.
“He’s been playing in Holland for a while where it’s totally different defensively,” Poyet noted.
“You don’t know whether they’ve got what it takes over here until they play.
“But hopefully we will see the quality from Pat which originally made Chelsea sign him.”