Joleon Lescott’s arrival has been a major boost for the Sunderland dressing room, according to boss David Moyes.
The 34-year-old was the first of three January arrivals for Sunderland, all having worked with the Black Cats manager during his 11-year stint at Goodison Park.
The centre-half has already earned praise from long-term friend Jermain Defoe, who hailed him as an ‘unbelievable’ professional.
That has been echoed by his manager who says his off-the-field impact could be as significant as on it.
Lescott’s signing was seen as underwhelming by many fans but Moyes has always insisted that he has been brought in as cover, rather than a crucial part of his playing plans as the Black Cats look to beat the drop.
Moyes said: “He can organise, speak, and tell people where to go, which is maybe something we lacked a little bit at times.
“Joleon’s had a massive impact on the dressing room because he’s a leader, a really good organiser when he’s on the pitch. He’s an experienced player, he knows a lot of them as well and he’s had a big impact on the dressing room.
“That in itself is important. Sometimes it’s off the field where you see the impact, not on it.”
Lescott, has, of course, already played a small part on the field in Sunderland’s latest fight against the drop.
The Black Cats were 4-0 up and in dreamland when John O’Shea suffered an injury at Selhurst Park, Lescott coming on for his debut with half an hour to play.
The circumstances could hardly have been better but the centre-half still put in an encouraging performance, making a number of clearances and impressing in the air as Palace launched a number of high balls into the box from the flanks.
O’Shea returned to make the side team for the Southampton defeat, and whether Moyes plays two or three centre-halves. it may be a while before Lescott is back on the field.
Moyes, however, has no doubt that if needed Lescott is ready to play a full 90 minutes for the Black Cats.
He was without a club after a troublesome period in Greece but trained at Manchester City prior to making the switch to Wearside.
“I’ve brought him in as cover and I’ve told people that. We needed that at Selhurst Park, and if John O’Shea doesn’t make it for a game, we know we can use him.
“I think if we had to put Joleon in for 90 minutes he’d be okay but Joleon’s been out of training a little bit.”