GUS Poyet says he fully understands how potent a weapon Craig Gardner can be in front of goal.
And after watching the attacking midfielder blast Sunderland into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 22-yard screamer which went in off the crossbar, the Uruguayan says his challenge is to get the best out of the Brummie for the remainder of the season.
“We played Craig Gardner in his favourite position, just behind the strikers, and he took full advantage,” said Poyet,
“It was a great shot from him and he’s another name who has put himself forward in terms of the first-team frame.
“When I arrived at Sunderland one of the first players I talked to was Craig.
“I said: ‘we need to find a way to put you close to the box with the ball at your feet,’
“We needed to get him three or four chances per game like that and then he would score a lot over the course of time because he’s a great finisher.
“I see it every day in training.
“He has a shot which is difficult to stop and he’s also a fantastic penalty-taker but we haven’t been able to play him there too often.
“I like him in that position.
“He gives me an option to do different things depending on how we play.
“He’s the midfielder who can attack the most, get in the box the most and he has that goal in him too.”
Poyet was quick to admit that the victory over much-lauded Southampton - Gardner’s performance included - had given him plenty of food for thought: and all of it good.
“There were loads of positives,” he said. “There were none of those doubts that kill you.
“So maybe we play two strikers from now on?
“Technically we were very good against Southampton, which is something we haven’t seen so much in the league, where maybe they are a bit more tense.
“And I liked the fact that we had two strikers and players coming in from behind.
“Overall it was a good performance, we took care of the ball, passed it well and showed great energy.”