Gus Poyet is ready to hand Adam Johnson a striker role as he plots a season-saving final eight games.
The Sunderland boss has been forced to defend his decision to bench the Black Cats’ most dangerous player over the last two games – especially after the England winger jumped off the bench to score in the ultimately failed effort to rescue Monday’s game against West Ham.
Poyet insists he has no regrets over his call but he did confirm Johnson is “99%” certain to start at Spurs tonight, a game Sunderland need to get something out of as they contemplate a run of tricky away fixtures.
He also confirmed he has been considering whether or not to play Johnson up front to solve Sunderland’s long barren run in front of goal.
Poyet said: “I talked to Adam after Liverpool.
“I didn’t after the last game. I hope he can have the same impact starting the next game. I would love that.
“That would make us stay up for sure. It’s pressure on Adam, but he is one player who can handle pressure because of where he’s coming from, what he has done, the internationals he has played. He is one of the main players at the club.”
Poyet is set to shuffle his pack again in North London, the Sunderland boss considering a radical overhaul of his team.
He added: “Johnson has a 99% per cent chance of starting on Monday. Starting him up front is a good option.
“He can play up front but it depends on how we play and the players coming from behind.
“It could be a nice combination but it is a good option.” Sunderland are the lowest scorers in the Premier League on 28 goals and none of their forwards have scored more than three top-flight goals.
Poyet has recalled Connor Wickham (pictured left) in an attempt to kick-start their goalscoring and the Black Cats chief confirmed he would continue to play a part in the next six games, even though he failed to find the net against either Liverpool or the Hammers. He said: “Connor will part of the next eight games. I will use him as much as I can depending on the system. We need a goal.”
Sunderland’s fate is out of their own hands but a win against Tottenham will revive flagging belief in the red and white camp.
Spurs are not one of the teams Sunderland would be expected to take points off, but Poyet wants the Cats to concentrate on what they can do.
He added: “No doubt about it, we have big games against teams who will give us nothing.
“I think if we perform a bit better against the big clubs people accept it. Everybody says we have a great chance if we work hard, because there are three teams at the bottom and because we play against each other.
“They will think if we beat you and you don’t beat them you lose and they win and you stay the same. The only difference is we have one game like that (West Brom).”