SUNDERLAND boss Gus Poyet insists his players deserve a rest – after giving them the weekend off.
The Black Cats had hoped to be in action this weekend in the FA Cup quarter-finals.
When you look what is coming next, it’s going to be a big mental test.Gus Poyet
But their shock defeat at the hands of Bradford City in the last round means they have no game, and Poyet believes the break can do the players the world of good.
Rather than getting them in training today or tomorrow, he has told his squad to forget about football and prepare themselves for the ‘big mental test’ to come.
Sunderland are back in action when 17th-placed Aston Villa visit the Stadium of Light next Saturday, with Tim Sherwood’s team just one spot and one point below the Wearsiders in the table.
Sunderland then face a trip to West Ham before the Wear-Tyne derby against Newcastle United and a home clash with another bottom-half team, Crystal Palace.
It is a vital run of games for Poyet’s team if they are to preserve their Premier League status, and the Uruguayan wants his players refreshed and ready to go.
“We’re going to give them the weekend off, but we’re not going to Dubai!” he said.
“I think you can look at it in two ways.
“If I was worried about something in particular that is workable, you can do something on that.
“But as I’ve said a few times, the mental side of it is very, very important.
“I think the players need a rest away from football.
“When you look what is coming next, it’s going to be a big mental test.”
Sunderland drew 1-1 in midweek against Hull City after a performance which left a lot to be desired.
The Black Cats struggled for long periods, and only snatched a point in the latter stages.
But even if they hadn’t got anything out of the KC Stadium clash, Poyet says he would still have given the players a mini-break.
He added: “Whatever the result had been at Hull, we were always going to give them a few days off.”