NEW Sunderland signing Andrea Dossena is making a swifter recovery than expected from injury and the 31-year-old left-back could be pushing for a first-team place by the end of the month.
That will be good news for Sunderland head coach Paolo Di Canio who believes the former Liverpool and Napoli left-back could prove a big asset to Sunderland this season.
The defender was a transfer-deadline day signing for the Black Cats, along with countryman Fabio Borini – both brought in largely as back-ups to first-team regulars – but both challenged to prove themselves at Sunderland this season.
The late signing of Dossena was particularly handy for Di Canio, who has been looking for a specialist left-back since Danny Rose returned to Spurs in the summer and admits he will breathe more easily when the new man is challenging for a place.
The Black Cats’ head coach told the Echo: “Dossena has been in Italy undergoing treatment but he came back last Sunday and has impressed us with his progress.
“He has been running with us and going through his fitness work and he is much better than we expected in terms of closeness to full fitness.
“When we signed him on deadline day we thought we were looking at five weeks out with the thigh injury but it is now looking as though it will be more like three before he is fully fit to be selected.
“And it will be good to have him available because we need more than one left-back and at the start of the season Jack Colback was the only player who could perform solidly in that position.”
The 23-year-old Tynesider is currently on a learning curve, adjusting full-time to the role of Premier League full-back after a career at youth and under 21 level spent in midfield.
Di Canio has praised Colback’s application but at the same time is glad he will soon have another left-back to call on over the course of the campaign.
“Jack has done very good at left-back – even though occasionally he still thinks like a central midfielder,” smiled the Sunderland boss.
“He is learning that left-back role and doing very well at it – as he showed with his cross for Steven Fletcher’s goal at Crystal Palace – and I have decided he has to concentrate on left-back because he will find it difficult to play central midfield under me here.
“He is competent and solid in central midfield but he is not a creator.
“He will hold on to the ball and pass it sideways and back – and that too can be an important job in a team – but I’m looking for my central midfielders to create for me – Jack can be more valuable at left-back and will get better there the more he starts to think like one.
“As for Dossena he is a natural left-back.
“He defends but he loves to attack and I think that the way we want to play this season both Colback and Dossena will enjoy their football because we want them to attack.
“Dossena enjoyed his time in England with Liverpool and he is another player – like Borini – who is not English but plays in the English style. He has been here and he knows what is going on in terms of what is expected.
“He has experience and desire and he’s a very fit player when he’s healthy and he can give Jack Colback help because Jack can’t play every game this season.
“He will need a rest at times and then Dossena will look to take his chance and show what he can do.”