GUS POYET hopes to spark a reaction from Jack Rodwell after leaving the big-money signing out of the squad at Aston Villa.
Rodwell’s only contribution over the last five games has been as a stoppage-time substitute in the Tyne-Wear derby, with the £10million capture not even on the bench at Villa Park on Sunday.
The England international was fully fit, with Poyet partly leaving Rodwell out with the aim of prompting a similar response to the one shown by Steven Fletcher after the Scot was absent from the matchday 18 against Spurs in September.
Fletcher netted a brace against Stoke City when he returned to the starting XI three weeks later, and Poyet wants to see lightning strike twice with Rodwell in tomorrow’s trip to his former club Manchester City.
“I want him to react now,” said Poyet. “Jack has plenty of ability, we know him well now and I am trying to get to know him better.
“I make decisions sometimes to try to know players better.
“Sometimes you make a decision for a specific game – for instance, leaving Jozy Altidore out of the Capital One Cup final last season was very difficult, but it was tactical.
“Leaving Jack out of the Villa game was a mixture of team tactics, and manager’s tactics.
“I hope it will work the same (as with Fletcher).”
Sunderland fought off competition from a host of Premier League sides to land Rodwell during the summer, following just seven starts in two years for City.
But after being a regular in the side for the first six games of the season, he has made just three starts since, with Jordi Gomez predominantly preferred in the middle of the park.
However, Poyet is convinced that Rodwell will ultimately be a success in a Sunderland shirt, with injury doubts surrounding Seb Larsson, potentially handing the 23-year-old an opportunity at the Etihad tomorrow.
Poyet added: “He has a great chance of playing tomorrow - not because it is against his former club Man City but, if the consequences of my decisions are right, this is the moment for him.
“There are so many things that we need to balance.
“He needs to step up now. It is his time and I am sure that he will help us a lot – more than he has done (so far).
“It has been difficult because he has come from a team that is in control of games all the time, to one that is not. We will adapt to him, but he needs to adapt a lot to us.
“He is going to give us more, I am convinced about that.”