Gus Poyet has confirmed that form man Emanuele Giaccherini will be part of his re-modelled Capital One Cup Final strikeforce – and dropped a strong hint that the Italy forward is in line for a surprise start at Wembley.
Sunderland head coach Poyet is ready to make major changes to his forward line after growing frustrated with his shot-shy attack and is considering throwing Steven Fletcher – who returned to full training on Monday – back into the mix.
But it is the potential presence of Giaccherini, who Poyet feels has finally adapted to the demands of his system, that really piques interest ahead of such a big game. “He has got more opportunities for many, many reasons,” he said.
“The first is because he has played at the highest level with Italy so he can cope with the emotions and because he’s been pushing more lately.
“He knows a little bit more what we need from him and where I think he should be playing. I know where he wants to play as well so there’s a little bit more of a clear picture. He’s got a big chance. I’m sure that either starting or playing, he will be part of the final. It would have to be really strange not to be part of it.”
Although Poyet threatened to rip up his team-sheet in the aftermath of Saturday’s thumping defeat at Arsenal, realistically there are few positions that are available in midfield or defence. Up front it is a different story with the form of Jozy Altidore making him particularly vulnerable.
Poyet could throw Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini a curve ball by including Ignacio Scocco or Fletcher, who has timed his return perfectly for the Wembley build-up. He said: “Fletcher’s good, he’s trained two days and he’s available. Fletch is available – what a time for him to come back, no? Fletch and Aguero – the two are available, it’s no difference.
“I will see how they all are this week because it’s a long week when you play Sunday. If there’s any problems it will be at the end of the week.” Poyet will have to disappoint several of his loyal squad men on Sunday with Altidore and Santiago Vergini set to drop out of the team that started at the Emirates last weekend.
The Sunderland boss accepted that his selection call will be one of the hardest of his career and will inevitably leave some of his players hugely frustrated. In a bid to temper their disappointment he will be taking the whole first-team squad to London today as Sunderland start their preparations for the League Cup final in earnest.
Poyet will delay naming his team until Saturday lunchtime but feels that the players will probably have worked out who is playing by then because of the routines he is working through in training.
He said: “It’s going to be an interesting selection, and there are going to be a few players who are going to be very frustrated on Sunday. But that’s why you have a squad. If you want to have a chance at any level, you need to have 23, 24, 25 players, which means that six or seven are going to miss out.
“When you have got everybody fit apart from Westy, who has a long-term injury, and one cup-tied player, Liam Bridcutt, it’s going to be tough.
“It’s a part that I don’t like in football because they have all done something to get in there. They have played a part in the games or they have trained every day to make the team better and more or less everybody deserves to be part of it.
“But it’s not possible, so we are taking everybody down, we will go all together so. We are going to have the experience all together, and then we will see.”
Poyet – who loaned Connor Wickham (pictured below) to Leeds United yesterday – says there are still places to play for in his cup final line-up. Having seen a reaction from his stars to their walloping in North London, he expects them to be ready both mentally and physically for the challenge by the time Sunday rolls around.
“Well, we have got better things and we have got a few decisions still to make and there are a few players still fighting for their places.
“There are plenty of things in my head at the moment, yes. But we have been training and we have been doing things for the game, things I hope can work, and we are still not ready.
“But we have a few more days, so I am sure we are going to get close to the best form to play the game.”