Sunderland’s Bridcutt wary of old mate Barnes at Burnley

Liam Bridcutt in action for Sunderland against Fulham. Picture by FRANK REID
Liam Bridcutt in action for Sunderland against Fulham. Picture by FRANK REID

SUNDERLAND have been warned that in-demand Danny Ings is not the only dangerman in Burnley’s attack.

Gus Poyet will be reunited with a familiar face tomorrow, with ex-Brighton frontman Ashley Barnes expected to start up front for Burnley in their crunch clash at the Stadium of Light.

Much of the attention on Burnley’s revival over the last three months has centred on seven-goal Ings, with Sunderland among a host of Premier League sides who have been keeping a watch on the striker, whose contract at Turf Moor expires in the summer.

However, strike partner Barnes has chipped in with four goals, to help Burnley out of the relegation zone and move level on points with Sunderland.

Barnes scored 53 goals in 170 appearances for Brighton after being signed by Poyet in March, 2010, before joining Burnley in a £750,000 switch 12 months ago.

Sunderland midfielder Liam Bridcutt also left the Amex Stadium last January, and knows the threat posed by the Burnley frontman, as the Black Cats attempt to secure only their second Premier League win of the campaign tomorrow.

Bridcutt said: “Ash is a key player for Burnley at the minute. He’s done great for them since he came into the side regularly.

“I know him really well and he’s an honest player.

“He came from non-league and worked his way up to the Premier League.

“He developed massively at Brighton.

“When I first signed there, he’d been there a year and from the first time I saw him to when we left Brighton, he’d developed massively.

“He’s only getting better too.

“Him and Ings are working well together, so they’ve got a good partnership and know each other well.”

Barnes hit the woodwork in Sunderland’s stalemate at Burnley in September, in one of a host of games this season which demonstrated the bluntness of the Black Cats attack.

Poyet hopes the capture of Jermain Defoe will solve Sunderland’s goal worries, yet the head coach admitted after last weekend’s stalemate with Championship Fulham, that creativity remains a problem.

Sunderland have been attempting to address that deficiency by fine-tuning the work around their new two-man strike force on the training ground this week.

But Bridcutt insists Sunderland’s players should be perfectly capable of getting to grips with a new formation.

“We’ve been going over a few things in training this week - formation and changes of position,” added Bridcutt, likely to remain in the starting XI tomorrow with Jack Rodwell suspended and Lee Cattermole still on the comeback trail from injury.

“But that’s part and parcel of football these days.

“If you look at most teams now, they change formation three or four times throughout the season.

“At the end of the day, as long as we don’t concede and start scoring, then we’ll start winning games.”