Paolo Di Canio will not use SAFC injuries as an excuse

LOOKING ON ... Paolo Di Canio watches Danny Rose in training.
LOOKING ON ... Paolo Di Canio watches Danny Rose in training.

PAOLO Di Canio insists his threadbare options are no barrier towards Sunderland beginning a new era with a positive result this weekend.

Di Canio’s predecessor Martin O’Neill was forced to include 18-year-old academy product Mikael Mandron to make up the numbers on the bench for last Saturday’s defeat to Manchester United, and the situation is unlikely to be any better at Chelsea on Sunday.

Just 11 outfield players participated in Di Canio’s first full training session at the Academy of Light on Monday, with David Vaughan and Carlos Cuellar both unlikely to be fit for the trip to Stamford Bridge.

The only positive news for the new Sunderland head coach, who is without top scorer Steven Fletcher and skipper Lee Cattermole until the end of the season, is that long-term absentee Wes Brown continues to train without suffering a relapse.

But although Di Canio concedes he would like more players to choose from, the Italian says he has sufficient options to ease Sunderland’s relegation fears.

Di Canio said: “We have had our injuries, and that is a disappointment. On our first day, we were only 13 players – 11 players plus two goalkeepers.

“But it is not an issue – it is enough to have a starting 11, and be able to make three substitutions.

“Obviously I would like to have 22 outfield players and three keepers to choose from, but at this moment in time it is not a problem.

“We have 16 players currently, and that is enough for me to go somewhere and get a result.”

Di Canio has succeeded with a depleted squad already this season. In his penultimate game in charge of Swindon Town in February, Di Canio named a squad of just 15 players with the Robins placed under a transfer embargo.

But Swindon still emerged as 1-0 victors to consolidate their position in the League One promotion race.

Di Canio added: “At Swindon before I left, I remember having games where we had just 15 players, and I still won the game.

“It is obviously a different league, a different level, but if they give their best, then a small number of players is all you need.”