Defoe hit by groin strain as Graham and Fletcher start at Bradford

BIG GAME: Valley Parade
BIG GAME: Valley Parade

JERMAIN Defoe was left out for Sunderland’s FA Cup fifth round tie at League One Bradford City today.

Defoe – believed to have a minor groin strain – was rested as one of six changes to the Sunderland starting XI, yet it was still a strong side named by Gus Poyet.

Vito Mannone, Billy Jones, Ricky Alvarez, Wes Brown, Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham were all drafted into the side, with Defoe, Costel Pantilimon, Anthony Reveillere, Jordi Gomez, Santiago Vergini and Connor WIckham the ones to miss out.

Former Sunderland pair Billy Knott and Jon Stead both started for Bradford.

BRADFORD: Williams, Darby, McArdle, Davies, Meredith, Liddle, Morais, Knott, Clarke, Hanson, Stead. Subs: Urwin, Sheehan, Zoko, Yeates, MacKenzie, Routis, Halliday

SUNDERLAND: Mannone, Jones, Brown, O’Shea, van Aanholt; Bridcutt; Johnson, Larsson, Alvarez; Fletcher, Graham. Subs: Pantilimon, Wickham, Gomez, Coates, Vergini, Honeyman, Agnew.