Kwadwo Poku to start for NYCFC? Vieira says he "needs to earn that spot"

PURCHASE, N.Y. – Is it Poku Party time?

Looking at the available players on the New York City FC roster for Saturday’s home game against the New England Revolution (3 pm ET, MLS LIVE), that would be a logical conclusion.

But even with Mix Diskerud with the US national team and Frank Lampard yet to fully train, NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira isn’t ready to definitively say fan favorite Kwadwo Poku will have a place in his squad against the Revs.

“It’s all depending on how he works in training. If he works well in training, if he works hard in training, he will have a chance,” Vieira said following training Wednesday. “But if he doesn’t and other people do it, other people will have a chance in front of him. You need to earn that spot because there’s so many players who want to play.”

Poku played a prominent role in Wednesday’s training session and would appear likely to see a spot in Vieira’s four-man midfield. But Poku said that’s not a conversation he had with his coach.

“We really haven’t talked much,” Poku said. “As every player, a coach will talk to a player about why he is playing the system and the players on the field. I just take it as being professional and I’ll just wait for my time.”

Poku, who had four goals and seven assists in 27 appearances, including six starts, a year ago, has been an unused substitute in NYCFC’s first three games.

“They know much better,” Poku said of his role on the team. “I think if [Vieira] doesn’t want me here, he’ll be the same guy to let me go somewhere, but since I’m here I’m part of it and I’m getting prepared and waiting for the chance.”

Vieira said Poku has found adjusting to his new formation and tactical ideas “a little bit more difficult.”

“This is our job as well, for me and my staff to be a bit more clear and spend more time to explain what we want regarding the position he plays,” Vieira said. “It’s just a question of time. It’s not about the talent, because he has the talent. It’s about how he can use the talent to help the team. This is what is important.”