Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Poyet in challenge to prove worth

Gus Poyet's Sunderland face Manchester City at home on Sunday

Gus Poyet has told his Sunderland players they still have time to clinch a place in his long-term plans.

The 45-year-old Uruguayan inherited a squad in turmoil when he took over from Paolo Di Canio at the Stadium of Light last month, and is still assessing what he has at his disposal.

Poyet hinted earlier this week that he was not entirely convinced by a summer transfer policy which saw the Black Cats lose Simon Mignolet, Stephane Sessegnon and loan signing Danny Rose and recruit 14 new players under director of football Roberto De Fanti.

However, as he prepares to deliver his verdict on the squad when the recruitment team meets to discuss the way forward during the forthcoming international break, he admits his views are changing all the time.

He said: "It changes, I won't say daily, but the most important part for me is Saturday at 3pm.

"When a player performs on Saturday at 3pm - people will say to me Wednesday, 7.45pm, Tuesday, I think it's 2.05pm this Sunday - but that's the most important thing.

"Yes, we make sure that they train well, we make sure that we do all the basics, but at the end of the day when it matters is Saturday at 3pm.

"That's when I learn the most for when I take my decisions and write my report about every single player, if we need and where we need [strengthening].

"I am going to have a meeting, it's going to be next week or the beginning of the following week, so then I will know everything.

"It's going to be either this week or the beginning of the following, but it's going to be in the next two weeks, for sure."

In the meantime Sunderland, who put their Barclays Premier League difficulties to one side in midweek to book a Capital One Cup quarter-final clash with Chelsea, face the task of attempting to drag themselves out of trouble against title contenders Manchester City on Sunday.

Manuel Pellegrini's men will head for the Stadium of Light having scored 14 goals in their last three games in all competitions, seven of them against Norwich last weekend.

Poyet has urged his side to have greater belief on the ball and was delighted with the way they retained possession to pave the way for their midweek cup victory over Southampton.

He knows the challenge will be different against City - the Saints made 10 changes for their trip to Wearside - but he is hoping for more of the same.

He said: "It's a different proposition, but if we give it to them, we are not going to get it back, for sure, so we need to be brave.

"We are not going to take silly risks. In plenty of situations where we were not able to pass the ball or keep it, we are going to try to keep it a little bit better than we have been used to."

Poyet will be without suspended duo Lee Cattermole and Andrea Dossena, who were both sent off in the 1-0 defeat at Hull last Saturday, but keeper Keiren Westwood has recovered from a blow to the head and is ready to compete with Vito Mannone once again.

Defender Wes Brown made his first competitive start for the club in more than 21 months on Wednesday evening, and he too is vying for a place.

Poyet said: "At the time I arrived here, he was not training every day, but then he started training every day and he found it easier.

"He asked to play a couple of games in the reserves behind closed doors and then he was putting himself on the line for us to pick him.

"Now he is in and it's up to him to stay there and stay fit and help us to get out of this situation."

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