Sunderland boss juggling Liam and Lee for cup final

Lee Cattermole.

Lee Cattermole.

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LEE Cattermole can expect to be the first name on Gus Poyet’s team-sheet in week’s Capital One Cup final – which is why he’s likely to be left out of Sunderland’s first-team against Arsenal tomorrow!

Gus Poyet says it will be a difficult call either way going into the Gunners game over whether Cattermole or Liam Bridcutt is handed the important defensive midfield role at the Emirates.

But he confesses that he is likely to err on the side of caution, with the Teessider so important to his Wembley plans.

“I have a decision to make over Lee and Liam and it’s a very difficult one,” he said.

“Obviously Liam is cup-tied from his time at Brighton and cannot play in the cup final and on top of that Lee was outstanding in the FA Cup tie against Southampton the other week.

“Normally, that would mean Lee stays in the team – he certainly deserves to after the way he has trained this week – but I have to think about the cup final, so that makes it difficult.

“If he was to get injured against Arsenal, or even sent off, that would leave us without someone who can play that role in the cup final because Bridcutt is not an option.”

Poyet says he will think things through carefully before tomorrow’s game but the likelihood is that Cattermole will not be risked, allowing Bridcutt to continue his Premier League education.

The £2.5m January signing can expect to be one of a number of changes from the Sunderland side which ejected Southampton from the FA Cup and earned the Black Cats a place in the last eight of the competition last week.

Poyet made nine changes from the league side for the cup tie and most of those players can expect to return, including the likes of Ki Sung-Yueng, Santiago Vergini and former Arsenal goalkeeper Vito Mannone who is making his first return to the Emirates since his £2m sale to Sunderland last summer.

The Black Cats head coach said: “I don’t think Vito has anything to prove at Arsenal.

“I hope, first of all, that he gets a good reception there because it will be a special day for him.

“Secondly, I hope he’s relaxed because we need him to be focused.

“He did very well for Arsenal and he’s been outstanding for us and we will need him to play well.

“Obviously there will be changes made to the side going into the Arsenal game but I have to say that every one of my players involved against Southampton last weekend did a great job and has given me plenty of food for thought.

“Vito will come back into the side but last week his replacement Oscar Ustari didn’t put a foot wrong in goal for us and a lot of the players who came in to the side showed that they have claims for a first team place.”