GUS POYET says Sunderland’s defence need to adapt to the unique challenge of ex-Newcastle United frontman Andy Carroll this weekend.
West Ham striker Carroll netted his first goals of the season with a brace in last weekend’s victory over Swansea after returning to action last month from ankle ligament damage.
Carroll has proved to be a thorn in Sunderland’s side over the years – netting in West Ham’s 3-1 win at the Stadium of Light last season and running the Black Cats ragged in the October 2010 derby rout at St James’s Park.
And despite Sunderland keeping clean sheets in three of their last four outings, Poyet has warned that his defence must be braced for Carroll’s aerial threat when the Hammers visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow.
“This game in particular is a different challenge because of the players they have got,” said head coach Poyet.
“The power, the size, how difficult they are to mark in certain aspects of the game.
“We need to do a few things differently.
“I don’t think that Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool (Sunderland’s last three opponents) put too many crosses in.
“West Ham are one of the teams that cross the ball the most.
“So we are going to have to adapt to certain things.
“We are going to have to deal with something that we have not dealt with week-in, week-out.
“We haven’t played against a Carroll yet.
“And for the centre-halves and the goalkeeper, it is going to be a challenge.
“It is going to be different, it is going to be hard, but we need to deal with it.”
Sunderland carry a physical threat themselves, with Connor Wickham and Steven Fletcher – fit-again after recovering from a back injury – expected to lead the line for the Black Cats tomorrow.
But Poyet says neither are cut from the same cloth as Carroll.
“I think we tend to compare players a lot, but really they are all different,” added Poyet.
“I don’t think Andy Carroll can play wide left, but Connor can.
“They have different styles.
“Fletch is different too. They all bring different things.”