Sam Allardyce insists having “frustrated” players at his disposal will benefit Sunderland, with a battle underway to earn a place in the starting XI.
Allardyce admitted Jack Rodwell didn’t deserve to be left out of Sunderland’s starting line-up for last weekend’s stalemate against West Brom after a run of improved performances, yet the Black Cats boss opted to recall Lee Cattermole in midfield.
Rodwell is not the first Sunderland player to be left disappointed over recent weeks, with Seb Larsson not even on the bench for last month’s Tyne-Wear derby and Jeremain Lens likewise axed from the squad against the Baggies.
But with Duncan Watmore the only casualty on the treatment table, Allardyce has virtually a full-strength squad at his disposal and he believes the competition that brings will help Sunderland in the battle for Premier League survival.
“I’ve got good players performing well in the team,” said Allardyce.
“Jack Rodwell was able to produce that talent which put pressure on Seb Larsson and Lee Cattermole.
“Competition for places is very, very healthy, although that makes life extremely difficult for the player who is not playing.
“It makes it difficult for them to get into the squad, and when they do get in the squad, to stay in it.
“That’s really good for the challenge between now and the end of the season.
“Seb’s been frustrated about not being on the subs bench, let alone playing.
“But I’m quite happy about people being frustrated!”
Allardyce recalled Cattermole to the side after the Teessider had impressed in training in the fortnight prior to the Baggies clash, despite Rodwell arguably producing three of his best performances of the season since being recalled to the starting XI.
And the ex-West Ham boiss has indicated that he will continue to make changes depending on the manner of the opposition and nature of the game.
“There will be times when I move it around tactically and I’ll disappoint players,” he added.
“If you’ve got a big squad, then you may use a certain player in a certain game, because you think it’ll help you win that particular game.
“You know you’ll have to disappoint a player, but you can tell them that it’s really not their fault, whereas most of the time if I leave a player out, it’s because their performances have dipped.
“I was speaking to Ryan Giggs about this the other day.
“He’d say Fergie (Sir Alex Ferguson) would come up to him and say ‘get ready for Manchester City in three weeks’.
“He was wondering why he wasn’t going to play for the next three weeks, but that was it!
“We have to think about who we’re playing against and when you’ve got a good and healthy squad, who are determined to fight for their place, you can make changes.”