WITH so many postponed games piled up and the happy prospect of one more to come if they reach the F.A. Cup Semi-Final, Sunderland might be accused of missing a chance to ease the pressure by allowing this week to slip by without fitting in a mid-week game. But Manager Bob Stokoe has no regrets. “We need this fortnight to prepare ourselves for the Sixth Round tie against Luton on March 17. This is the game that matters most to our supporters and ourselves and we are working on it.”
There has been a lot of speculation on the formation in which Sunderland will tackle what has been loosely described as a Cup rehearsal against Luton in a League game at Kenilworth Road on Saturday. But there will be no answer to that one until the completion of tomorrow morning’s training schedule. The team announcement will come just two hours before starting the journey South.
One certain non-starter is Richie Pitt, who stood down from training yesterday because he had a sore throat. He reported with his team-mates this morning, but his condition had deteriorated and he was sent home with instructions to see his doctor.
Ian Porterfield came back into training this morning, however, and worked through a full session to clear any doubts about his fitness.
Luton Town have their problems too. There was a cheering conclusion to their Anglo-Italian Tournament game against Bari at Kenilworth Road last night, for they were decisive 4–0 winners. But Manager Harry Haslam would rather have done without this extra game, for he wants to keep his players fresh for their Roker Park visit next week.
No doubt, he too, will be thinking in terms of giving one or two over-worked players a break from Saturday’s League match.
Sunderland have still to find fresh dates for their postponed games against Huddersfield Town and Queens Park Rangers, but agreement has been reached for their visit to Preston N.E., where they were due to play a League game when they visited Manchester City, to take place on Monday, March 19, providing no replay is necessary in their sixth round tie.
The reserves will be in action again at Roker Park on Monday night, when they are to entertain York City Reserves in a North Midland League game. On Wednesday night, Sunderland youth team visit Huddersfield Town in the first leg of the Northern Intermediate League Cup semi-final.
Reserve defender Brian Thompson, who travelled down to York yesterday for talks with Manager Tom Johnson, has signed for the Yorkshire club on a month’s loan. Mr Johnson said it was unlikely that Thompson would be in their side to visit Chesterfield on Saturday because he has not met his new team-mates.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on March 8 1973.