Sam Allardyce will make changes to the Sunderland XI tonight, if he feels any of his players are incapable of replicating their mammoth efforts from victory over Chelsea.
Allardyce has kept an unchanged line-up for Sunderland’s last six games, and that continuity has paid dividends, with three points against Everton this evening sealing the Black Cats’ place in the Premier League.
However, Allardyce has not ruled out introducing fresh legs against the out-of-form Toffees after Sunderland produced their biggest physical effort of the season in last weekend’s win against Chelsea.
And while back-up full-back Billy Jones remains the only injury absentee, Allardyce is mindful of the fatigue issue in a game which holds such rewards for Sunderland.
Allardyce told the Gazette: “There’s the issue of recovery levels.
“If any player has not recovered from a fatigue point of view, after we’ve beaten Chelsea by the best physical output this season, that’s my starting point.
“If there’s anyone that we think is not capable of getting to that, then putting someone in that is, is going to be one of the key selection processes.”
Allardyce also has the option of changing Sunderland’s formation, which he did in the final half-hour against Chelsea when Duncan Watmore replaced defensive midfielder Jan Kirchhoff and the Black Cats switched to a 4-2-3-1.
“It’s a thought. Do we lose the effect of Duncan Watmore if we start him, rather than use him as an impact player?” said Allardyce.
“He’s still a young lad whose learning the game and you wonder if you start him, he can have that impact straightaway.”
But the likelihood is that Allardyce will persist with the same set-up tonight, particularly after he opted against making changes following the poor display at Stoke City 10 days ago.
“There was always the temptation to make a change after what was not a very good performance at Stoke,” he added.
“I changed the team that much when I first got here, it was every week to get a result.
“This time around, it’s about sometimes forgiving not quite as good a performance.
“That frustrates a lot of the other players because they’re all fit. They think it’s harder to get out the team than in it.
“But at the end of the day, the players have produced a lot of consistently good performances, so we decided to roll with the same team against Chelsea.
“The only concern was I couldn’t quite believe how badly we defended in the first half, so I’ve got to put that right tonight.”