Thanks to their progress in the domestic cup competitions Sunderland’s programme for the final three months of the season will be packed but as they illustrated last weekend, they now have genuine options all over the pitch. They will welcome Steven Fletcher back into the mix on Saturday and have Wes Brown back for Wembley after Santiago Vergini was integrated for the FA Cup clash with Southampton.
Colback is convinced there is enough quality and depth in the squad to cope with league and cup pressures. “We made a lot of changes at the weekend and did brilliantly. Southampton are no mugs, they’re are very good team and put a strong side out. We deserved the win, so I think that shows we’ve got the players to cope with it,” he said.
“Every time you get a win it breeds confidence in the side. If we’d come into the cup games thinking, ‘It’s not the league, it’s not important’ and got beaten you leave on a downer.
“We’ve shown in the Carling Cup we can go all the way, so why not in the FA Cup as well?”
While others feel the league is the priority, there is a firm belief in the Sunderland camp that the momentum from their cup adventures is actually fuelling their Premier League survival bid rather than hampering it.
He said: “We were dead and buried at one point but we’ve got in the mix again and I think you’ve got to admire what we’ve done to get to the FA Cup quarter-finals and the final of the Carling Cup. If we can finish 13th or 14th it would be a very good season for us. We just need to focus on the next game.”
Poyet’s selection headaches will be eased slightly by the impending return of Fletcher, who is in line for Saturday’s trip to Arsenal after recovering from the Achilles injury that troubled him for large parts of Sunderland’s winter programme.
The striker, included in the Scotland squad for next month’s friendly against Poland along with clubmate Phil Bardsley, returned to training yesterday morning and has an outside chance of being included on the bench at the Emirates, which would give him an opportunity to feature against Manchester City in the Capital One Cup Final.
Poyet said: “Then depending on how he feels, we can either accelerate him for Arsenal or make sure he is right for the final. He’s had a programme with the expectation that he will be able to play at Arsenal.”