WHILE FA Cup topics and the exciting possibility of Sunderland earning a place in the Wembley final by beating Arsenal at Hillsborough in just over a fortnight’s time hold the centre of the stage, Manager Bob Stokoe has to organise the team’s effort on a much broader front. Four League games have to be played in nine days, starting with Saturday’s visit to Fulham, and that will leave five clear days to build up for the supreme effort against Arsenal.
Mr Stokoe plans to make the best possible use of that brief pause in the crowded League programme by taking his players to Buxton, in the Derbyshire hills, where he recalls the benefits which he and his Newcastle United team-mates enjoyed in their Cup-winning days of the 1950s.
If the change of air and routine provides the same tonic as the break at Blackpool which preceded the tremendous challenge against Manchester City at Maine Road, Mr Stokoe will be well pleased.
And he may hope for a lasting effect, too, because Sunderland face the mammoth task of playing no fewer than ten games in April. The resilience of his first team pool will be tested to the full in that sequence.
Only one member of the recognised cup pool looks like missing Saturday’s visit to Fulham. Ron Guthrie has been receiving attention for an Achilles tendon injury received against Preston NE on Monday night and he has little chance of holding his place.
With Keith Coleman nursing a knee injury received in helping Sunderland Reserves to their 1-0 win at Mansfield last night, Joe Bolton comes into the running for a place in the starting line-up for the first time since January 6.
Dick Malone and Dennis Tueart reported with their team-mates at Washington New Town today to resume training after a two-day stand-down. A full schedule was planned for today, with a sharpening-up session at Roker Park tomorrow morning to be completed before Mr Stokoe names his line-up and starts the coach journey South.
McGiven in training
Mick McGiven, out of action since mid-December through a cartilage operation is back in full training again and was due to have a work-out with the Reserves last night.
He had to be sent home with a heavy cold yesterday, however, and will now have to wait until next Wednesday’s home game against Lincoln City Reserves.
Stories taken from the Sunderland Echo on March 22 1973.