SEBASTIAN COATES says he had no time to think after being thrust into the Tyne-Wear derby at the last minute.
On-loan Liverpool centre-half Coates produced by far his most assured display in a Sunderland shirt in yesterday’s 1-0 victory at St James’s Park, despite receiving just 15 minutes notice that he was starting the game.
Full-back Anthony Reveillere was forced to pull out in the warm-up through injury and with no other defenders available, head coach Gus Poyet opted to put fellow Uruguayan Coates in the side and move skipper John O’Shea to left-back.
That late decision proved inspired, with Coates helping Sunderland to a clean sheet after a nervy opening 10 minutes.
Coates said: “You don’t have time to think about anything.
“You just have to concentrate on the game and do the best you can.
“For me, I want to play and I want to improve, day by day.
“I’ve waited for my opportunity and to do the best I can.
“For sure, that’s my best game for Sunderland so far, but I think it was a great game for the team.
“It was a great experience.”
Coates says both O’Shea and central defensive partner Wes Brown proved invaluable in talking him through the game – as they have done throughout his stint at the Stadium of Light.
“They didn’t just help me yesterday. It’s every day,” said the 24-year-old.
“For me, it’s a pleasure to play with two guys who have done so much in the Premier League.
“They’ve played for Manchester United, won championships there.
“So for me, it’s really good.”
Coates hopes victory on Tyneside – Sunderland’s first Premier League win in seven – will prove to be a foundation for the Black Cats.
Second bottom Hull City are next up at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day, with Steve Bruce’s side on a torrid run of just two points from their last eight games.
“That should be great for our confidence because we’ve been drawing so many games,” added Coates.
“We knew we were doing well in the games, but didn’t get the results.
“We’re pleased to achieve this result and try to take that into Hull now.
“Hopefully we can carry on winning against Hull.”