Dick Advocaat is torn between two competing thought-processes for his maiden cup tie in English football tonight.
On one hand, Advocaat is wary of any extra entries on Sunderland’s schedule, if it hampers them physically from the priority of remaining in the Premier League.
We have to think to ourselves that we need to know each other betterDick Advocaat
During his days at former club PSV Eindhoven, Advocaat saw the effects of midweek cup ties, albeit the Dutch side were facing far more travelling in the Europa League.
But on the flip side of the coin, Advocaat believes tonight’s Capital One Cup tie against League Two Exeter City provides a window of opportunity.
There is a much-needed chance to further develop some cohesion in Sunderland’s ranks after there was little sense of that during the club’s pre-season campaign.
Several players returned late for pre-season after being given extra-time off for their international commitments, while new signings Jeremain Lens and Yann M’Vila played just two friendlies between them.
And with Sunderland also without a win to their name yet this season, there is a chance to boost the Black Cats’ fragile confidence, which was marginally boosted by Saturday’s draw against Swansea.
It is the latter two reasons which will triumph over any concerns over fatigue, when Advocaat restricts his changes to just two likely ones tonight.
“In pre-season, we had no time to do things - he was not there, he was not there, he came in late etc,” said Advocaat.
“Now we are getting towards the squad we have to work with, so let’s keep them playing.
“I can see it both ways about the cup competitions.
“Managers are saying that the Europa League can cost you points, and I saw that at PSV as well.
“If you are playing in Europe on a Thursday night and then you have a game on Sunday, that costs you points.
“But then again, I don’t want to be negative about the cups.
“We have to think to ourselves that we need to know each other better.
“It’s better to do it in a game situation than training.
“And then we still have four days in between the game at Aston Villa.”
Exeter have taken seven points from their opening three games in League Two, while they got the better of League One Swindon in the previous round.
But despite Sunderland being humbled at League One Doncaster during pre-season, Advocaat sees the Stadium of Light encounter as a chance to build some momentum after a vastly-improved display against Swansea.
He added: “Exeter have nothing to lose. We saw that against Doncaster.
“Straight from the beginning, they were flying
“If the players think it’s going to be easy tonight, then we have no chance.
“But we’re playing at home, so there must be an advantage.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s League One or League Two, we have to get a result and that can give you confidence.
“That’s the reason why I want to play with the strongest possible side.”