PAOLO Di Canio would love the chance to keep improving Danny Rose, but he is expecting Sunday’s to be their final game together.
Sunderland entertain Southampton at the Stadium of Light in what could be the on-loan left-back’s farewell appearance.
Premier League rules prevent Rose facing parent club Tottenham Hotspur on the last weekend of the season. And while Di Canio refused to speak about the long-term future of his best outfield player, it is clear he is steeling himself for the 22-year-old’s return to White Hart Lane.
“It’s clear he’s had a very good season but I don’t want to talk too much about Danny because he’s a Tottenham player,” said the Italian when asked about Rose’s future. “(Spurs manager Andre) Villas-Boas will want him back.
“I don’t want to spend too much time talking about a player that we probably won’t see next season.
“But he’s had a very good year as part of a group of players that have had an average season. His enthusiasm and his quality are clear.”
Just in case, Di Canio made sure he pointed out Rose is yet to prove himself at the higher level Europe-bound Tottenham play at.
“If we want to build a team that can fight for a different target, with different responsibilities, can he be capable of performing under that pressure? And can he maintain his improvement, on and off the ball?” he asked.
“I think yes, but you never know. It’s easy to see he’s a talented player. He can go to Tottenham and play regular football,
to try to finish in the top four. Every game you are obliged to win (at Spurs). It’s a different pressure.
“He’s got the potential to play at the top of a group of top players, playing at that level.
“It’s crucial you have to work really hard during the season, not only physically but mentally as well.
“You have to maintain your concentration and listen to everything you are being told. I’m not talking specifically about Danny Rose.”
Di Canio also made clear he would like the opportunity to keep improving a player who as an English left-back in the Premier League, let alone an Under-21 international, is an automatic contender for a full cap.
“He’s a player I like,” Sunderland’s manager stressed. “I like working with young players because when you can help improve them in some situations, it’s very rewarding.
“In my opinion, he (Rose) can improve a lot defensively.
“He’s an attacking-minded left-back, but he has to improve a lot defensively.
“He’s got a great future in front of him. He’s a powerful guy.
“The strength and elasticity he’s got mean he can run forward with the ball and beat people easily.
“It’s obvious he can play at the top level, but everybody has to improve.
“People have to realise there are two phases in the game – possession and non-possession. It’s crucial to be good in both situations.
“I don’t want to say he’s not very good when we’re not in possession of the ball, but he can improve a lot.
“He can improve the timing of his tackling and he needs to learn when and how to be aggressive.
“But everybody can improve, and he’s only 22.
“You can see how easy he finds it to beat an opponent.
“He makes it look easy, but it’s very difficult to do as he did in the last two games.
“His goal against Aston Villa was like one you might see from a Barcelona left-back.
“He has a natural way to run with the ball through traffic and deliver the ball to the back post.
“It’s easy to talk about his quality, but if we don’t tell him he has to improve, he’s probably never going to.”
Di Canio gave no fitness updates ahead of Sunday’s game, where a win all but guarantees the Black Cats’ top-flight status.