Gus Poyet has told the Sunderland Echo of his concerns with playing Emanuele Giaccherini centrally against certain opposition.
Although Poyet feels that Giaccherini has a vast amount of ability, his lack of physicality remains a worry - meaning his manager has doubts over where his best role is.
The Italian has played in central-midfield, on the wing and even, fleetingly, up-front since arriving at the Stadium of Light in 2013 and Poyet's comments today seem to suggest that he will have to continue to put up with a rotational role.
“I’ve got a list of the players in my office separated by different positions – the defenders, full-backs, midfielders, wingers and strikers," Poyet said. "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."
Giaccherini's time at Sunderland so far has been a mixed one. He was brought to the club from Juventus with a lot of expectation, but hasn't quite had the impact desired.
A series of injuries and a struggle to adapt to the English game thwarted his progress last campaign and he hasn't pushed on as expected this term.
With Poyet admitting that places are now up for grabs in the squad, the 29-year-old will be determined to start claiming his position in the team. If he reaches the top of his game it is hard to see him being kept out of the line-up.