SUNDERLAND have “one or two” injury doubts ahead of Wednesday night’s visit of reigning Premier League champions Manchester City.
The Black Cats squad were due to a undergo a light training session at the Academy of Light today as they recuperate from their significant exertions in Saturday’s Stadium of Light stalemate against Chelsea.
But apart from fatigue, Sunderland boss Gus Poyet also has a couple of injury worries to deal with against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Poyet declined to name those who were at risk of missing the City game, but one of the problems is in defence after on-loan Liverpool centre-half Sebastian Coates – ineligible for Saturday’s trip to Anfield – warmed up intensely during the second half against Chelsea.
However, Poyet is well aware that becoming only the third team this season to take Premier League points off Chelsea will have given his players a significant boost ahead of the City and Liverpool games.
“The players will go into these games with a mentality of thinking they can win – we can beat Man City, we can beat Liverpool,” he said.
Poyet also believes that installing some defensive resilience in Sunderland’s ranks has been the first step in the club’s progression this season.
Sunderland have netted just 12 times in 13 Premier League outings this season and drew a blank for the second successive game on Saturday.
It will be something Sunderland look to address in January, with reports over the weekend linking the Black Cats with Ajax attacking midfielder Lasse Schone and Everton’s on-loan Chelsea winger Christian Atsu – although Poyet immediately dismissed speculation regarding the latter during the summer.
But Poyet is hopeful that as the season goes on, Sunderland will be able to complement the solidity which has returned after October’s 8-0 mauling at Southampton, with more attacking potency.
“That is the first step, being difficult to play against,” he added.
“We then bring in the quality from the injured players who are coming back.
“In two or three months’ time I would like to win that game against Leicester (the previous weekend’s goalless draw).
“We need to take that extra risk, although Chelsea was different.
“But I want to have that option to be a team who will win more than draw. That will take time, or a couple of players in January.”