Poyet will still shuffle Sunderland pack for FA Cup clash with Southampton

Groundstaff remove the corner flags after the match was postponed ahead of the Barclays Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium
Groundstaff remove the corner flags after the match was postponed ahead of the Barclays Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium

GUS POYET insists he will still shuffle his pack for this weekend’s FA Cup clash with Southampton, despite last night’s encounter with Manchester City falling victim to the weather.

The dress rehearsal for next month’s Capital One final proved to be a damp squib last night after gale-force winds in the North West forced the Etihad Stadium game to be postponed due to safety reasons.

With Sunderland facing three games inside a week, Poyet had been planning to use Saturday’s visit of Southampton as an opportunity to hand his fringe players a run-out, while giving a debut to January signing Nacho Scocco.

And the head coach plans to continue with that strategy, even if the bulk of his first-team regulars will go a fortnight between games.

Poyet said: “I was looking forward to giving a few players opportunities and that will not change.

“We have a few players who need to play and deserve to play, but for different reasons, they haven’t been able to.

“I’m talking about players like (Emmanuele) Giaccherini and Scocco. They both need minutes, so we’re going to use that game for this.

“But it will all be first-team players, we will not be taking the game lightly. I hope that we win it so we don’t have to play a replay.”

Poyet had no issue with the decision to call off last night’s game less than an hour before kick-off after Greater Manchester Police raised concerns over supporters’ safety.

Certainly, many Sunderland fans would have struggled to arrive at the Etihad on time after a crash left the M62 at a standstill.

“We came across on Tuesday and prepared as normal,” added Poyet.

“We had a meeting yesterday morning and set off for the game as usual.

“Yes, it was very difficult to get to the ground. A journey that would normally take about 25 minutes took more than 40.

“It’s true that we saw a few incidents outside, there were a few panels coming down towards our bus.

“Of course we were ready to play and we wanted to play. But we have nothing to complain about.

“You don’t know what is going to happen, but we need to be honest.

“It was a strong decision by the police and we have to agree with that.”