THE rainstorm which washed out Sunderland’s plan for a full scale work-out against promotion favourites Queen’s Park Rangers at Roker Park last night have led to a hurried rearrangement of Manager Bob Stokoe’s preparation plans for Sunderland’s tilt against Arsenal in Saturday’s FA Cup Semi-Final at Hillsborough. But the schedule for their trip to a Cup hide-out at Buxton this afternoon were unaffected.
Instead of the light training session planned for Roker Park this morning, the players reported at their Washington New Town complex for a concentrated training session. And these will be repeated in the Derbyshire hills before the usual tapering off on Friday.
The unexpected hard game last night would have been the ideal start to a different kind of schedule, though Mr Stokoe no doubt counts the blessings of having his Cup squad exposed to injuries.
A formal decision of line-up will not come until nearer the game, but the team which has played unchanged through the last three ties seem certain to carry the vote. The team party includes the following 14 players: Montgomery, Malone, Guthrie, Horswill, Watson, Pitt, Kerr, Hughes, Halom, Porterfield, Tueart, Young, Chambers and Bolton.
Physiotherapist John Watters will be going along, too, to complete the treatment session needed to produce striker Vic Halom in top condition and attend to any calls which may arise during training at Buxton.
The postponement of the QPR game means that Sunderland have at least ten games to play after Saturday’s Semi-Final ... and that could be increased by a Semi-Final Replay and a Wembley appearance, too.
It is a problem which needs to be sorted out, but Mr Stokoe throws League cares overboard for the moment and concentrates on ensuring that his players are fit and ready for the fight of their lives on Saturday.
“We have only one horizon at the moment,” he says. “We’ll take care of the League games afterwards, but Saturdays’s big game deserves all the attention we can give it.”
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on April 3 1973.