While Tottenham Hotspur loanee DeAndre Yedlin has shown some good things at right-back during his time with Sunderland, US national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann plans to keep giving the versatile speedster minutes on the wing.
Yedlin, 22, has spent his entire club career at right-back since joining his hometown club Seattle Sounders in January 2013 after playing two seasons at the University of Akron, but he was actually a winger when he first arrived at college.
In addition, the pacey American prospect has also earned the majority of his 29 international caps on the right-hand side of midfield, including at the 2014 World Cup, where his bright cameos off the bench led to a £2.5 million move to Tottenham two months later.
Having often struggled with his defensive positioning, Klinsmann’s decision to use him further up the pitch has not been without reason, but the former MLS All-Star is now getting regular starts at the back for Sunderland and – save for a few expected hiccups – has given a good account of himself for the most part.
Klinsmann has been pleased with the on-loan defender’s recent progress, but at the same time he does not want to tie him down to one position for the moment when his attacking qualities can be put to good use on the flank.
Asked about his plans for Yedlin during a Facebook Q&A ahead of the USA’s back-to-back World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala, the German said: “Right now, he’s playing right-back with Sunderland, but the most important thing is just that he’s playing. It’s really important that he’s playing week in, week out, and we’re really happy that he’s doing a good job there.
“It’s also a good option to have when he can play both positions,” Klinsmann continued. “I think as a right-back, there’s still a big learning curve for him, and that’s what he’s going through right now in the Premier League – he’s learning there every game.
“For us as a right winger, he’s very helpful because of his speed, simple as that, because he can surprise defenders and go at people, and that’s what you want to see.
“You want to see some elements in the game that make a difference, and he can make a difference in the way he plays there, so it’s good to know we have both options.”
Yedlin originally arrived in England in January 2015 after playing the rest of the 2014 MLS campaign with the Sounders, but the Seattle-native went on to make just one 12-minute substitute appearance during his first eight months at Tottenham.
However, the versatile wide man has seen a lot more action since joining Sunderland in September on a season-long loan, featuring 17 times for the club while recording two assists.
It has certainly not all been smooth sailing, as his shaky display in Sunday’s 1-1 derby draw at Newcastle United showed that he still has a lot to learn, but there have been enough positive signs to suggest that his ultimate future still lies in defence rather than midfield.