GUS POYET has challenged Fabio Borini’s fellow frontmen to dislodge the on-loan Liverpool man as Sunderland’s main striker.
Borini was used in his favoured central role for only the second time during his loan spell in last weekend’s Capital One Cup final and responded by netting the opening goal at Wembley.
The Italian is expected to continue leading the line in tomorrow’s FA Cup quarter final at Hull City, as Sunderland bid to secure a return to Wembley.
But Poyet, who continues to contemplate the possibility of reverting to an orthodox front two, has not shut the door on his other striking options Steven Fletcher, Nacho Scocco and Jozy Altidore.
When they are given an opportunity though, Poyet says they must grasp it with goals, otherwise Borini is likely to remain as Sunderland’s first-choice forward.
Poyet said: “I think it’s important when the rest have a chance to play, they perform and score.
“If not, then Fabio will stay there.
“He was very good at Wembley, but if Jozy, Fletch and Nacho come in and we’ve suddenly got four scoring...
“Then you want to play them all the time because they are scoring goals.
“But it’s up to them.”
Poyet had been contemplating using Borini down the middle for several weeks before handing him his opportunity against Manchester City and he was pleased to see the 22-year-old take that chance.
“It was a plan to use Fabio there,” he said.
“I had plenty of ideas in my head and a few decisions to make. That was probably the most important one.
“But then you need the player to perform and to make your decision right. It’s important the players understand that.
“Depending on what they do, it makes you a better or a worse manager!”
Borini’s inclusion, coupled with Fletcher’s return to fitness, saw Altidore dropped not just from the starting XI but from the bench as well.
The £6million summer signing returned to training at the Academy of Light yesterday after representing the USA in their midweek international friendly against Ukraine.
Poyet hopes Altidore is spurred on by his Wembley snub and has warned that the ex-Hull loanee will not be the last big name casualty to be left out of the squad before the end of the season.
The head coach added: “I learned a lot the other day about Jozy, it wasn’t nice. But it’s up to him now.
“One of the things with Jozy is that he was lucky enough to have the international game.
“He could go away with his country and be normal up to a point.
“It’s going to happen with other players; someone else will be left out who is not expecting it.
“When these situations happen, you learn a lot from the players.
“It’s not nice to tell someone they are not on the bench in a final.
“But it’s part of my job and we can’t pick what is good and bad.
“I hope they all understand the reasons, because there are reasons for every decision.”