THE RETURN of Sunderland’s walking wounded will provide an accurate picture of their development by the end of the month, believes Gus Poyet.
Sunderland suffered their first defeat on the road since October after a 3-2 loss at Manchester City today, as the buffer with the relegation zone was reduced to three points.
But Poyet believes Sunderland’s prospects will improve when full-backs Patrick van Aanholt and Anthony Reveillere, plus midfielders Lee Cattermole and Liam Bridcutt, are back in the fold.
Reveillere and van Aanholt are due back in training on Monday, with the latter already earmarked to return from two months on the sidelines in the visit of Liverpool on Saturday-week.
Cattermole, meanwhile, missed the City game with a groin problem, while Bridcutt is due back in training tomorrow after suffering concussion at Aston Villa last weekend.
And with that quartet set to return, Poyet believes they will make a difference for the three remaining Premier League outings this month against Liverpool, Spurs and Burnley.
“I think next week most of the players are going to be back,” said Poyet, who must now turn his focus to Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie at home to Leeds United.
“And I think the next three games are probably going to be the opportunity to see the real potential of this squad – when you can play two recognised full-backs – one recognised right-back, one recognised left-back and your best two centre-halves.
“When you have everybody, then your best team has to be on the pitch.
“At the moment, we’ve been changing around too many little things and missing a few players who are important for us.
“The two defensive midfielders were away (today) so there were plenty of things that didn’t go for us.
“We are OK. But OK for me is not enough.
“I want more, but I’m realistic about the position we’re in.”