Gus Poyet has told smarting Jozy Altidore to force his hand with a match-winning performance at Hull tomorrow – after warning he does not pick his teams on “charity”.
Altidore was axed for the Black Cats’ biggest game of the season at Wembley and gave an interview with American TV in which he suggested that the US national team’s system was better suited to his strengths.
Poyet admitted it had been a difficult decision to leave him out of the match-day squad entirely but offered him some hope by confirming him as one of three definite starters at the KC Stadium, with Lee Cattermole and Ignacio Scocco the others.
He said it was up to Altidore to prove that he deserved a run in the team, just as Cattermole had made his mind up for him by delivering what Poyet felt was a “man of the match” display against Manchester City at Wembley.
“It’s up to him. We saw it with Lee,” he said. “Lee’s playing on Sunday. Because of me? No, because of him. It’s that simple. I would like Jozy to do the same. To say ‘I deserve to play on Sunday’ and do well enough to play against Palace and Norwich. But because of him, not me. I’m not a charity.
“Here it depends on how you perform. I bought Liam Bridcutt to Sunderland, he’s my player, but on Sunday it’s Lee Cattermole (playing).”
Poyet insists that Altidore has a part to play in Sunderland’s run-in and suggested that the Wembley decision was far from straightforward.
“It was hard. I needed to make the bench something I was comfortable with which meant a goalkeeper, a centre-half, a full-back, two midfielders and two strikers,” he said.
“I’m not like these people who take a risk and put one defender on the bench and five strikers. It wasn’t easy but I went with my decision. Let’s see how he reacts. I look forward to seeing what type of character he is. I’d like him to prove me wrong.”
Poyet gave short shrift to the idea that Sunderland’s system was responsible for Altidore’s struggles in front of goal. He said: “We can talk about too many things, how we play, the system we play, who is playing or not playing – at the end of the day we put plenty of effort in to get to him the club and we try to use him the best we can. We need him. It doesn’t matter what he said.
“I went to see him with the national team. He’s playing in a slightly different system, but in the game against Scotland he didn’t score and this week he didn’t score. No doubt he still has a part to play.”
Confirming that Cattermole will play, he heaped praise on the midfielder for his attitude and performance at Wembley.
He said: “It’s a good opportunity for me to talk about Lee – his performance shows why we kept him when he was so difficult on the final day of the transfer window.
“It showed the type of character he is and why he plays most of the time. It was a perfect example of a player who goes on the pitch and gives it everything.”