Sunderland boss checks on centre-halves ahead of Man Utd Captial One Cup clash

Carlisle United defender Matty Robson (centre on knees) after his goal against Sunderland during the 3thid Rd of the FA Cup game at the Stadium of Light. Photograph by FRANK REID
Carlisle United defender Matty Robson (centre on knees) after his goal against Sunderland during the 3thid Rd of the FA Cup game at the Stadium of Light. Photograph by FRANK REID

GUS Poyet will check on the availability of centre-halves Modibo Diakite and Valentin Roberge ahead of tomorrow’s Capital One Cup tie against Manchester United.

The pair withdrew from the squad 24 hours before Sunderland’s 3-1 FA Cup win over Carlisle United and Poyet improvised by playing Ki Sung-Yueng alongside Wes Brown for the visit of the Cumbrians.

But with Brown back in harness and John O’Shea making a quick return, neither may be needed if Poyet opts to deploy the ex-Man United men against their former clubs.

The head coach revealed: “We had an issue at centre-half because neither Valentin Roberge nor Modibo Diakite were available.

“So we reshuffled the defence and put Ki Sung-Yueung in , who has played there before, and in the end it worked out well.

“We might have brought in an Under 21 centre-half if we’d had more time.

“But with things happening at the last minute in terms of the centre-halves taking knocks, we thought that was unfair - we decided to go with experience instead.

“Wes did very well and it’s great to have him back but John O’Shea is also making real progress from his shoulder injury and is looking very good in training so we will have to check on things and see what we have available to us going into the semi-final.”

Poyet, who began his post-match Press conference with the quip: “Hurry up! Manchester United starts in five minutes,” says he will have to continue asking demands of a squad stretched to the limit by the current rush of fixtures.

But he believes the Carlisle cup tie worked out well in allowing him to leave players like Steven Fletcher, Fabio Borini and Emanuele Giaccherini on the bench.

“When I was a player I always wanted to play, so I’m not going to concern myself too much about two games in 72 hours,” he shrugged.

“But the main thing is that we have given quite a lot of first-team players a rest in the Carlisle game so they will have no excuses not to be fresher for the Manchester United game.

“We don’t have the luxury of playing two separate 11’s for the cup games - players who played against Carlisle will have to play against Manchester United.

“But we are pleased at the way that we handled it with the players and there’s no reason now why we can’t be very competitive in the semi-final on Tuesday.

“In terms of training, it’s just a case of keeping things ticking over.”