Sunderland’s returning players in with a chance at Spurs

Steven Fletcher in action for Sunderland.
Steven Fletcher in action for Sunderland.

SUNDERLAND’S sidelined contingent will have a “big chance” to make their mark at Spurs next weekend.

Gus Poyet was without several key players for Saturday’s defeat to Liverpool, with Jack Rodwell, Steven Fletcher, Lee Cattermole, Jozy Altidore and Anthony Reveillere missing through injury or illness, while Billy Jones and Ricky Alvarez were not risked from the bench.

Cattermole is the biggest doubt among that contingent, with the midfielder yet to return to training from a groin injury, although Poyet is hopeful he is not facing a sustained spell on the treatment table, with Liam Bridcutt receiving a one-match ban.

But with several of those players likely to be fit for Saturday’s trip to White Hart Lane, head coach Poyet has indicated that he is likely to make changes to his side after the manner of Sunderland’s third loss in four Premier League outings.

“It’s true there’s chances now,” Poyet said.

“For the players that are coming back from injury, there’s big, big chances and I hope they take it.”

Summer signing Rodwell was due to return to full training today, while Reveillere should be in contention at White Hart Lane after resuming training last week following an Achilles injury.

Jones and Alvarez – who had been suffering with illness last week – could also feature.

But strikers Fletcher and Altidore will both be assessed today after they were late withdrawals to face Liverpool.

Poyet said: “Fletch was very close. He would have been playing, but the groin didn’t let him play.

“And Jozy Altidore got sick during the night on Friday.

“It was an option to play Ricky, but he only trained a day-and-a-half. He’d been sick all week.”

With so many players missing, Poyet introduced Danny Graham from the bench in the second half against Liverpool, with the striker – back from a loan spell at Championship Wolves – making his first Premier League appearance for Sunderland since May 2013.

Fellow frontman Mikael Mandron was also thrown into the fray in the dying stages, although the crowd didn’t react well to the introduction of the academy product at the expense of Sunderland’s stand-out player Adam Johnson.

However, Poyet insisted Johnson was struggling with fatigue and defended his substitutions.

“We were chasing the game and we needed something different,” said Poyet.