SUNDERLAND’S fringe players have been reminded that the FA Cup fourth round tie against non-league Kidderminster Harriers is an important game.
There may be a bit of an ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ feel to the game in the wake of the euphoric Capital One Cup semi-final victory over Manchester United on Wednesday which sends the club back to Wembley.
But head coach Gus Poyet – who will ring the changes from the midweek match – says every player selected has to be professional and see the game for the opportunity it represents.“I’m not going to make 11 changes but it’s going to be close,” he said.
“I thought about making 11 changes the other day, but you need to make a team and it needs to have a shape, so it won’t be a complete change.
“But all the players who play are going to be first-team players – we are not talking about a team of U21s or U18s –they will be first-teamers.
“They need to perform.
“There are going to be players who have a great opportunity to play in the most famous cup competition in the world and it’s up to them to take it.”
He also pointed out that while the Kidderminster game will be seen as relatively low key, Sunderland players involved in the match have a chance to put a marker down.
“Between now and the Capital One Cup final, there are plenty of games,” he said.
“Anything can happen in terms of injuries and bans.
“There’s a big possibility that someone who played in the semi-final on Wednesday night will miss out on the final for some reason or another.
“And somebody who was not expecting to play – maybe someone who starts against Kidderminster – will end up playing in the final instead.
“So all the players that play they need to put themselves forward and show me that I can count on them if needs be.”
l GUS Poyet has held talks with Connor Wickham but has still not resolved the striker’s immediate future.
He is currently on loan at Sheffield Wednesday but the deal with the Championship outfit expires next week.
And Poyet says that although he has now spoken to the striker, who has scored eight goal in 11 games for the Owls, the situation is still up in the air.
“I have a decision to make and it is not easy,” Poyet told SportMail. “I have spoken to him but I probably need to speak to Stuart Gray at Wednesday to discuss things further.
“The bottom line is that Connor has done very well at Wednesday, very well. so there is a possibility that he could be coming back, we just have to see how the transfer window works out.”