HE might have taken a little bit of time to settle following his summer move from Paris St Germain, but Mike Dodds is confident Timothee Pembele is starting to find his best form with Sunderland.

Pembele moved to Wearside with quite a lofty reputation after making 11 Ligue 1 appearances for PSG and a further 26 outings in the French top-flight during a season-long loan spell with Bordeaux.

However, a combination of injury and the challenges of acclimatisation have restricted him to just five substitute appearances with the Black Cats.


That could well change tomorrow, with Sunderland’s defensive issues potentially presenting the opportunity for a first Championship start at right-back, and if Pembele does line up as part of a remodelled back four, Dodds is confident the 21-year-old is now in a position where he can do himself justice.

Sunderland’s interim head coach said: “Timmy had a huge pedigree at youth level and has had a couple of significant injuries in previous years.

“The club invested in him in the summer and in one of his early sessions with us, he had a quite serious hamstring injury which obviously knocked him back for a period of time.

“Sometimes, young players moving to a new country, I think it takes them a while to settle and I think you've seen that with a few players.

“I think with Timmy, that has probably been the case. I think it's taken a little longer to settle and I think that happens with youngsters - especially when they've moving to a new country.”

Dodds also points to the excellent form of Trai Hume as another reason why Pembele has struggled to establish himself in Sunderland’s first-team ranks this season.

He said: “He's got huge pedigree, huge potential, but he hasn't been able to force his way into the team. If I'm being brutally honest, I just think that's because we've got one of the best right-backs in this league in Trai Hume.

“If we're speaking frankly, that's the main reason why (Pembele has not been playing). But in this period (where players are out), you would expect to see more minutes for Timmy.”