FORMER Manchester United pair John O’Shea and Wes Brown have a pivotal role to play against Manchester City this weekend, says Gus Poyet.
The two centre-halves, expected to be reunited in the heart of Sunderland’s defence at Wembley, amassed a bumper haul of silverware during their decade together at Old Trafford after winning 27 domestic medals, along with tasting European success.
And Sunderland boss Poyet believes that experience of playing in major finals will be crucial for the Black Cats against Man City on Sunday.
“When you have played in these kind of games, I’m not saying you are never nervous and you don’t get butterflies, but you know what it is all about – you have been there before,” said Poyet.
“You deal with the situation a different way.
“At the old Wembley, the walk from the tunnel to the middle of the pitch was the longest walk imaginable - it was incredible!
“And the noise from the fans was unbelievable.
“You had to experience it to know what it is like.
“The players are going to go out at the new Wembley on Sunday, look around them and think ‘oh my God’.
“We are all different and handle it our own way.
“You have to manage it as a group and that’s why you need leaders, which is why experienced players like John and Wes are so valuable.
“They can see when someone is not taking things in and give them a shake!”
O’Shea and Brown are among five players in the Sunderland squad who have lifted the League Cup before after Seb Larsson and Craig Gardner won the trophy in 2011 with Birmingham, while Ki Sung-Yueng was part of the successful Swansea side last year.
But for those in the Sunderland squad who haven’t participated on this stage before, Poyet is keen for them to grasp the opportunity, with the Black Cats facing their first major final in 22 years.
“We have to make them think ‘what a chance’,” he added.
“We don’t know when is the next time they will be in a cup final – maybe never, although obviously we hope that won’t be the case!
“This is their chance – and mine too – because you can’t count on going to a cup final every year.
“You never know what is going to happen in the future.
“This is their chance and they have to take it.”