One of the key performers in Gus Poyet’s back line has been Santiago Vergini, currently on loan from Argentine club Estudiantes, having built on his poor start last season to appear in six of seven games this campaign.
He won his second cap for his country during the ongoing international break, and, with a long flight back from Hong Kong, the 26-year-old is looking likely to miss Saturday’s game at Southampton. Having stepped in to the centre of defence for the Black Cats last fixture, with Wes Brown out of action with a calf injury, Brown is ready to step back into the back line - although he is aware that Vergini’s impressive form deserves a place in the starting line up.
Brown told Chronicle Live: “It’s up to the manager.
“Santi has had a long trip international-wise, but he would have been really happy to get back in the squad.
“I’m sure the gaffer will have a word with him, and hopefully Sheasy [John O’Shea] comes back fully fit as well. But whatever the gaffer wants to do, I’m more than happy to go along with that.”
Brown also played a key role in Sunderland’s survival last season, with his experience shoring up a weak defensive line used early in the campaign. He has played five times this season, usually in the centre - with Vergini at right-back - but his true asset is his willingness to sit on the sidelines to perform whenever he is called up.
Having missed the game prior to the international break through injury, Brown was delighted to see the Black Cats pick up the three points, and he knows that it will be difficult for his Argentine counterpart to be removed from the squad.
He added: “I’d try to play every game, but it was just one of those where I had a sore calf.
“Nothing was pulled, but should I have played or made it worse, or rested it and get it back to where it is today, which is fine. The lads have gone out and we’ve got the points.
“From my point of view, I’m more than happy to get the points on the board. Santi’s playing so well that it’s going to be difficult to take him out.
“I’ve got no problem with that. If we can win another game with that back four, that would be brilliant. I’ll be ready when needed.
“Obviously Santi came as a centre-half, and the gaffer put him at right-back when we were struggling for one. But I think he’s done brilliant.
“He gets forward, he defends, he attacks the ball and he’s fitted in really well. There’s been absolutely no problem with him.
“He’s a big lad and maybe his first couple of games – like anyone would do – it takes a bit of time.
“But it’s a new season, he knows what it’s about now and as everyone can see, he’s ready to go.”