GUS Poyet hopes Adam Johnson can continue to thrive in a central role after leaving his familiar surroundings out wide.
Johnson has arguably been Sunderland’s biggest dangerman over the last month, but was used as the most attack-minded member of a central midfield trio in last Saturday’s defeat at Spurs after head coach Poyet switched to a 3-5-2 system.
However, Johnson was still a threat in the hole behind the front two, and head coach Poyet is looking for the 27-year-old to continue adapting to his new surroundings.
“In certain of the shapes, the ones who lose the most are the wingers,” said Poyet.
“They are the ones who start losing positions, so they have to adapt.
“But also it gives you the flexibility of going another way.
“The system we are playing now, we cannot train for three months and then one day you play it and it’s there.
“It’s how we can adapt to the new one, depending on the quality and the personnel.”
Emanuele Giaccherini was one of the players sacrificed to accommodate new signing Jermain Defoe after the Italian international had started Sunderland’s previous two games and been one of their brighter performers.
More than 18 months after arriving at the Stadium of Light, Giaccherini’s best position remains a moot point after being used both out wide and in central midfield this season.
But Poyet says a new set-up provides opportunities for the likes of Giaccherini – an unused substitute at White Hart Lane – to cement a position.
“Last week, he trained in the middle because of the numbers we had in the middle,” added Poyet.
“I’ve got a list of the players in my office separated by different positions – the defenders, full-backs, midfielders, wingers and strikers.
“For the first time ever, the shortest list was the midfielders with Lee (Cattermole) and Liam (Bridcutt) out, so I put Giaccherini there.
“The problem with the way we’ve been playing is there’s a lot of work to do there.
“Giaccy has got tremendous ability to go between players and break from the middle of the park.
“Then there’s the other side of it, depending on who he’s going to play against.
“The physical side is part of the game now, when it’s a 50-50 game.
“So sometimes when he’s playing wider, it suits him.
“But it depends on the shape, as to where he plays.
“There are possibilities and the players need to be smart and say I can make that position my own.”