Simon Grayson hopes his Sunderland side will be a ‘different animal’ when Derby County visit the Stadium of Light on Friday night - and has defended Lamine Kone's performance against Celtic.
The Black Cats slumped to a dire 5-0 weekend defeat against Celtic, after which Grayson said ‘no one came out with any credit’.
It leaves him with a number of selection headaches ahead of the season opener at the end of this week.
Grayson, did, however, reserve some praise for debutant Lewis Grabban, who came close to a debut goal in the first half, only to be denied by the excellent Dorus de Vries in the Celtic goal.
Grayson said: “We had a little bit of a positive in Lewis Grabban – I thought he was probably the best player we had in our ranks, but we have to be better collectively.
“We’ll regroup, work hard all week and hopefully you will see a different animal on Friday night.”
Grayson refused to criticise Lamine Kone after the centre-back struggled all afternoon in the Dafabet Cup showdown against Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic.
The Ivorian’s poor touch allowed Callum McGregor to open the scoring for the visitors, before he was pulled out of position for the slick second goal which followed shortly after.
Kone was substituted early in the second half.
Grayson said: “He wasn’t in the best physical condition – he was feeling fatigued at half time.
“Fair play to him, last week 85 minutes and 90 on Wednesday so (Saturday) was maybe too much of a game for him, the number of minutes he’s had.
“He was one of a few players who struggled out there, so you can’t blame Lamine for the result.”
Grayson added that summer signing James Vaughan, who had a penalty saved by De Vries and has now failed with two spot-kicks in pre-season, would ‘probably not’ be given the duties for the upcoming campaign.