Sunderland boss Poyet: Just two places to fill for cup final

Gus Poyet watches the Sunderland AFC players training at the Academy of Light in the build up to the Capital One Cup final.
Gus Poyet watches the Sunderland AFC players training at the Academy of Light in the build up to the Capital One Cup final.

GUS POYET is fretting over the final two places in his cup final side after already deciding the bulk of Sunderland’s starting XI to face Manchester City on Sunday.

Poyet claimed after last weekend’s 4-1 rout at Arsenal that he had ripped up his plans for Wembley, following a lacklustre display from Sunderland against City’s title rivals.

But, after a period of reflection, Poyet has now cemented in his mind the majority of those players who will be handed a starting spot for the Capital One Cup final.

The Sunderland boss says a couple of places are still up for grabs though and they will depend on what he sees from his players on the training ground this week.

Poyet told the Echo: “I don’t know the team yet. I would say I know nine who will play, although I’m not going to tell (Manchester City manager, Manuel) Pellegrini!

“I’ve got eight or nine that I know will play, but there are still a couple of things that will depend on what I see this week.

“It depends how well they do the basics. We need to do the right things all the time and that means every day in training.

“If someone is going through a bad time or bad form, then I’m not going to take any risks in the final.

“You need to look for special players in special positions, and that’s why it’s not that clear.

“We don’t have that (Cristiano) Ronaldo or (Lionel) Messi that you’re going to play whatever.

“But I’ve got an idea of how I want to start the game, and then the rest will depend on the players.”

The striker role is Poyet’s chief selection dilemma, with Jozy Altidore netting just once in the Premier League this season, Steven Fletcher on his way back from an Achilles injury, Nacho Scocco short on match sharpness and Fabio Borini proving to be a success on the left flank.

Poyet is giving nothing away over who will lead the line at Wembley, but he does admit it’s a vital decision for him during the next 72 hours.

“I think the striker is a very important position,” added Poyet.

“I always say that when you’ve got an organised team and you’re fit enough, if you’ve got an outstanding goalkeeper and striker, you’ve got a great chance to get into the top 10.

“That’s the same in any league in the world.

“We’ve got better in terms of organisation, understanding the game and playing a certain way. Vito (Mannone) has been great too.

“But last week I challenged the strikers to make the difference.

“They are having chances and it’s up to them to take them.

“We’ll see. It’s a very, very important position – more than anyone thinks – and I need to make the right decision.”

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