Sunderland’s Giaccherini eyes a more central role

Emanuele Giaccherini.
Emanuele Giaccherini.

EMANUELE GIACCHERINI insists he feels more at home in a central role after returning to the first-team fold.

Giacherini has played the final half-hour of each of Sunderland’s last two games as an attacking midfielder after coming off the bench following more than three months on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

The Italian international was primarily earmarked to operate in a wide role when he arrived at the Stadium of Light in a £6.5million deal 18 months ago.

But Giaccherini’s best performances in a Sunderland shirt have predominantly come when he has operated more centrally, in the hole behind the striker.

And with Sunderland boss Gus Poyet handing the ex-Juventus man the licence to float from that position over the last two games, Giaccherini is keen to remain there.

“I want to play in that central midfield role. I feel that is my best position,” said the 29-year-old.

“I try to go between the lines, press and get into the box from there.

“I can play as a winger because in the last three or four years, I’ve played there.

“But I prefer to play in central midfield.”

Giaccherini could be handed only his second Premier League start of the campaign in New Year’s Day’s trip to reigning champions Manchester City, with injuries to two fellow midfielders.

Liam Bridcutt is unlikely to feature after suffering concussion at Aston Villa on Sunday, while Seb Larsson is also a major doubt, following a minor ankle injury at Villa Park.

That could open the door for Giaccherini and Jack Rodwell to feature at the Etihad Stadium, where Sunderland were one of only two sides to come away with anything last season.

n Sunderland youngster Lynden Gooch has been included in a provisional 35-man USA squad for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championships.

California-born Gooch, 18, has been a regular for Sunderland Under-21s this season and penned a new three-year deal at the Stadium of Light last month.