Belfast Telegraph

Poyet wary of Leicester

Sunderland head coach Gus Poyet has ordered his troops not to be caught out at Leicester as they were after the last international break.

A month ago, the Black Cats returned to Barclays Premier League action at Southampton having welcomed back players from their respective countries, and were trounced 8-0 in an horrific 90 minutes which cast a pall over what had been a relatively positive start to the season.

This time around they head for the Walkers Stadium with the Uruguayan warning there is no room for a post-international hangover.

Poyet said: "We have to make sure that we are much better than the previous game after the international break, if you know what I mean.

"There was a little bit of a reminder this morning to think about what we did last time we were internationals and to make sure we don't feel that way again, and that we forget as quickly as possible about the internationals and all the stories about the national teams and the travelling and think about Sunderland.

"That's the best way to come back. Close it, 'That's it, the internationals have finished until the next one in March, I'm not going to think about it now, I am fully focussed on Sunderland'."

The dark day on the south coast was followed by a 2-0 home defeat by Arsenal, but Sunderland have rather steadied the ship since, winning 3-1 at Crystal Palace before an eventful 1-1 draw with Everton last time out.

The trip to Leicester is one they will view as an opportunity to extend that run against the promoted Foxes, who after a promising start to life in the top flight, have found the going a little tougher since.

Nigel Pearson's men have taken just a single point from the last 18 on offer, although Poyet is convinced that return is not an accurate reflection of what they have to offer.

He said: "Normally when you finish the season in the Championship well, you normally start well because of the adrenaline and the craziness of having the chance to play there, and if one or two results go for you, you get a little bit longer.

"I think that's what happened to Leicester in the beginning. Everything was going well for them. But you can't maintain adrenaline for 25 games. You get one, two, three, four or whatever and then you just feel that you are a Premier League team.

"Then you need to maintain that, and that's when it's a little bit tougher. That's why it's maybe a little bit downhill at the moment.

"But I don't think there's a difference between Leicester and the rest of the bottom 10, there are ups and downs in there. Like any other manager, the sooner they get it up again, the better for them.

"Of course when they play against us, we will try not to let that happen, but I think that's what Nigel is going to be looking to, to use this game as a comeback to the feeling at the beginning of the season."

Poyet will be boosted by the return of midfielder Lee Cattermole from suspension, while striker Steven Fletcher has shaken off the ankle injury which promoted his early return from Scotland duty.

But he will hope Pearson does not select his main frontman this weekend after seeing at close hand what Leonardo Ulloa is capable of during their time together at Brighton.

Poyet signed the former Almeria striker January last and was not at all surprised when the Foxes took the £8million plunge 18 months later.

He said: "I am pleased he is doing well. I hope he doesn't play - if Nigel doesn't want him to play, I will be delighted. He's a special player."

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