GUS POYET insists Sunderland cannot afford to play it safe with potential suspensions before the December 31 cut-off point.
Striker Connor Wickham will miss Boxing Day’s visit of second bottom Hull City after incurring a one-match ban for a fifth yellow card of the campaign in last weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby.
Captain John O’Shea and midfielder Jordi Gomez also went into the referee’s notebook at St James’s Park and they are now walking a disciplinary tightrope on four bookings, prior to the amnesty at the end of the calendar year when the totting up procedure ends.
But Sunderland head coach Poyet won’t take either out of the firing line against Hull or ask them to be pro-actively cautious ahead of Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa, with the Black Cats eyeing back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time this season.
“I don’t want John to go into the game thinking he can’t get a yellow card and letting someone go past him,” said Poyet.
“Or Jordi not stopping a break, like he did against West Ham.
“That’s why the squad is here.
“Of course, it would be stupid to get a yellow card for throwing the ball away or talking to the referee, but if it’s a normal action in the game, I’m not bothered.
“We can only think about Hull. I don’t even want to think about VIlla.
“I watched their game on TV the other day, but it’s not easy when you play on a Friday and you have to watch Villa that evening to see if you need to say something.”
Hull are in the midst of a torrid run of form which has seen Steve Bruce’s side register just two points and two goals from their last eight games to drop to second bottom in the table.
But Hull had the Midas touch over Sunderland last season – winning all three meetings between the two sides, including victory just six days after Poyet’s men had beaten Newcastle.
“We couldn’t beat Hull for different reasons last season,” added Poyet.
“I think they were three very different, unique games.
“The first one we went down to nine men, and that was after Newcastle as well.
“The home game was a red card after two minutes which was unexpected as well.
“And then the last one (the FA Cup quarter final) was all the mistakes together.
“The idea is to use the situation we are in, that confidence and the supposed lack of confidence of Hull and put it into the game straight away.”