David Moyes on Sunderland’s Christmas plans and his selection dilemma

Billy Jones is back in training ahead of Monday's visit to Manchester United
Billy Jones is back in training ahead of Monday's visit to Manchester United

David Moyes says there is no time to waste when it comes to preparing for the Boxing Day clash at Manchester United.

The Sunderland boss will attempt to “switch off” for a couple of hours on Christmas Day but knows in reality his focus will be on preparing for the visit to his former club.

The Black Cats squad will train on the morning before heading to the North West early evening ahead of the 3pm Boxing Day game.

Sunderland are third-bottom, a point from safety.

Moyes said: “I think, if you’re a football manager, your head’s on the job all the time.

“That’s why sometimes people don’t understand that when you get one (win) you move right on to the next game, the preparation.

“But obviously, when you’re going to such a tough place as Manchester United, with the quality they’ve got, I will be thinking about it.

“But I will try and switch off.

“We’ll train Christmas morning and head down to Manchester late in the afternoon, early evening.

“So hopefully I’ll manage a few hours with my family for some Christmas lunch and keep my head out of it for an hour or two at least.”

Moyes’ options for the game are set to be boosted with Billy Jones and Steven Pienaar’s return to training along with Javier Manquillo, although the Sunderland boss was keeping his cards close to his chest over whether they would definitely be involved.

Another issue facing Moyes is that both Jones and Pienaar are on four yellow cards.

The cut-off date for players receiving five cautions falls on December 31.

That means Jones and Pienaar will have to keep their noses clean for the games against Manchester United and the New Year’s Eve game at relegation rivals Burnley to avoid a one-game ban in the first week of January.

When asked whether that was a selection consideration for Old Trafford, Moyes said: “It could be – I need to think about that seriously.

“I think the bookings end on December 31, so it’s even tougher for them to get through those two games without getting booked.”

Lynden Gooch is the only other Sunderland player on four bookings, but he is out injured for several months.