Sunderland put faith in Da Silva

Bruce states his belief in Paraguay defender despite tough start to English career
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The Independent Online

Sunderland defender Paulo da Silva is ready to re-launch his career in England with manager Steve Bruce admitting he threw him into Premier League football too soon.

The 30-year-old Paraguay international could make his first start since January in Saturday's Premier League clash with Tottenham after being given further time to acclimatise to life in the North-east.

Da Silva arrived at the Stadium of Light from Mexican side Toluca in August and has 19 senior appearances, the last three of them from the bench, to his name.

He has had to wait a while to add to those, but Bruce, having been impressed with his display as a second-half substitute in Sunday's 3-0 defeat at Liverpool, is now preparing to pitch him back into Premier League battle with John Mensah's persistent fitness problems refusing to go away.

"As I have said repeatedly, in my experience with the South Americans – it was the same with [Wilson] Palacios, [Antonio] Valencia, [Hugo] Rodallega and in particular [Maynor] Figueroa – it took them time," Bruce said.

"I didn't play Figueroa for seven months until I gave him his debut. I probably threw Paulo in a bit quick, but we were struggling with injuries and suspensions at the time.

"But I think now, he is just starting to get to grips with the culture, the way the game is played and the intensity of it, so it will be interesting to see how he does in the next five or six weeks. I am sure he will be wanting to do well. He is going to the World Cup as captain of his country, which is a fantastic achievement for him as well."

Bruce has mined a rich South American seam in recent years, but has learned to be patient. "It's totally, totally different. In Mexico, it's red hot, isn't it? It's at walking pace and everything comes to life in the last third," said the Sunderland manager.

"And in Mexico, they are not very big, so when he sees [Didier] Drogba and people like that, there's a bit of a difference physically. But most of it is mental.

"Let's be fair, within six months, he is fluent in the language, he's moved his family here and the kids are now going to school and all of that. If we are being honest, we would all struggle with that. If we all had to go to Paraguay or Mexico, we might struggle as well."

Bruce will come up against one of his finds this weekend when Honduran Palacios runs out against the Black Cats. Bruce initially signed him during his time at Birmingham, and then paid his former club £1m to take him to Wigan in January 2008.

The Latics were to make an £11m profit on the deal when Spurs came calling 12 months later. "We were struggling. We only had him for three days, so I arranged a game for him where we let the people in for free – about 1,500 people came – and it was too easy for him. But he just had something. It was the way he was that made me buy him, his hunger and his attitude," said Bruce.

"He's a delight, an absolute delight, the kid. I never, ever envisaged that he would go on to do that. I left Birmingham, but went to get him. But to go from Wigan to Tottenham –- I won't tell you the numbers, but it's an unbelievable success story. He's a fantastic player, the kid."

Meanwhile, the Sunderland defender Michael Turner has warned Tottenham that former striker Darren Bent is gunning for them. The 26-year-old left White Hart Lane in a £10m summer move, and he heads into Saturday's meeting between the two sides with 21 goals to his name this season. Turner said: "He's always looking to score in the next game, especially so on Saturday."

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