Gus Poyet urges Connor Wickham to come back to SAFC with a bang

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet refuses to criticise his players, and challenges Connor Wickham to grasp a 'new start'

Nigel French/PA Wire Sunderland's Connor Wickham
Sunderland's Connor Wickham

Gus Poyet has defended his Sunderland stars against the suggestion that some are not good enough for the Premier League.

The Black Cats signed 14 players last summer, when Roberto De Fanti and Valentino Angeloni were in charge of recruitment.

Poyet added five more in January. However, the Wearside outfit head to in-form Liverpool tonight lying third- bottom of the table, albeit with games in hand.

With Steven Fletcher injured and Fabio Borini ineligible under the terms of his loan deal from the Reds, Poyet is likely to hand Connor Wickham an immediate opportunity to prove himself following the end of a temporary spell at Leeds United.

Citing the 20-year-old’s “incredible power” but reluctant to judge him solely at Anfield, he has challenged Wickham to look on his latest return to the Stadium of Light – after previous loan periods at Sheffield Wednesday – as a new start, in the hope of uncovering “the ‘bang’ we need”.

Such an impact has failed to be delivered by Jozy Altidore. But when put to Poyet at yesterday’s pre-match press conference that many of the

players he inherited when replacing Paolo Di Canio last October are “just not good enough”, the Uruguayan said: “You’re not going to get that from me, I can assure you.

“When we finish the last game of the season, then I will sit down and we will analyse what happened in the whole season.

“We will talk with the chairman (Ellis Short), (newly-appointed sporting director) Lee Congerton and the chief executive Maggie (Margaret Byrne).

“They know a little bit but I think it’s better when you finish completely because then you’ve got the whole picture.”

Pressed specifically on Altidore later during the press briefing, Poyet added: “These decisions I need to make.

“It depends on many things, not just him but what the team needs. The most important thing is the team, not an individual situation. We will use the players for the best of the team.

“It is a team problem and he is part of that because he is a striker. Sometimes we look for excuses but we don’t look for one for Jozy.” On Wickham, Poyet said: “I’m not going to judge him in this game (tonight) if he plays.

“I’m not mad enough to say ‘You played against Liverpool and didn’t score, so I’m not going to play you any more’. It’s about searching for a solution.

“When I came here, we had five strikers and there was an expectation about how I was probably going to use them.

“For some reason, he was falling to the bottom of the five.

“He went on loan and did very well, but then when Ji (Dong-Won) left, we brought another striker (Ignacio Scocco) in.

“There was always something happening in between.

“But he’s going to get a great chance now. I would like Connor to look at this as though we have just signed him for the first time. He is a new player, nobody knows him, and he is a young English striker with incredible power.

“He’s coming to a club to help us to get away from relegation. If he has that impact, that will be fantastic. That will be the ‘bang’ we need. I need to search for something, that is part of my job.”

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