Alvarez can shine for Sunderland

AVAILABLE ... Ricky Alvarez.
AVAILABLE ... Ricky Alvarez.

RICKY ALVAREZ will show his worth when Sunderland are on the front foot, insists Gus Poyet.

New signing Alvarez endured a baptism of fire on his Sunderland debut last weekend after the Black Cats were dominated by an impressive Spurs side.

Head coach Poyet had stressed prior to the game that Alvarez was not a like-for-like replacement for last season’s loanee Fabio Borini, with the Argentine international more of a midfielder than a forward, despite operating on the left flank.

But Poyet was encouraged by flashes from the on-loan Inter Milan midfielder and believes he will thrive when Sunderland enjoy spells in the ascendancy.

Poyet said: “I know he can play in that (Borini) position, so yes, position-wise he can be a replacement.

“That’s true. But in similarity? No, he’s not a striker, he’s a wide player.

“But people will see more of him when we are in control.

“For example, in a game like the one at QPR when we had the ball in the last third a lot, he’s going to be very important.

“We need to have that control first. But we’re going to use him, no doubt.”

Poyet admits that in hindsight he should not have thrown Alvarez straight into the starting XI against Spurs, given the superiority of the visitors.

But he says the experience of a such a rollercoaster encounter will have been invaluable for the 26-year-old.

“If I knew the game was like that, I wouldn’t have played him in a million years,” added Poyet.

“I didn’t have a clue that it would be that intense and difficult.

“But it was good at the same time, because now he knows.

“It was a proper welcome to the Premier League.

“And he’s happily surprised.

“He was surprised because he was like ‘oh my God’.

“But at the same time, he was thinking that it was an incredible game.

“I don’t think we had a game like that last year, it’s not week-in, week-out.

“If he had watched the game against QPR, he would have thought ‘no problem’. That was a different pace and we had some control.”