GUS Poyet says he will not short-change the cup competitions in his pursuit of Premier League survival.
Fresh from their defeat to Aston Villa on New Year’s Day, Sunderland face an FA Cup third round tie against Carlisle United on Sunday followed by the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final against Manchester United two nights later.
Coming in a crowded fixture list, and sandwiched between relegation six-pointers against Aston Villa just gone and the away trip to Fulham coming up, the knockout games could be seen as an unwanted distraction.
But Poyet has promised not to treat the cups lightly and insists he is still interested in the maximum possible progress in BOTH competitions.
“It is not a case of choosing either/or when it comes to the two cups and it’s a not a case of disregarding them altogether either,” he said.
“We want to do well in both of them – although the fixture list is very crowded and it is going to be a challenge for us.
“The most important thing for us this season is obviously staying in the Premier League but that does not mean turning our backs on the cup opportunities.
“January is a strange month because the FA Cup competition is coming into play and, in my view, it is a very special competition – the best cup competition in the world.
“Then we have the semi-finals against Manchester United in the Capital One Cup and that’s something we have to take very seriously, both because of the quality of the opposition and how close we are to a final.
“And then we also have the very important game against Fulham in the middle of those semi-finals, making it an incredibly busy time.”
The Uruguayan believes, though, that it is important not to look too far ahead.
“If you looked at the fixture list you would just find it scary, and that’s why we will take things the only way that we can – which is to take them one game at a time,” said the former Brighton manager.
“We have to forget about all the games coming up and just think about the next one in front of us and try to do the best in that as we possibly can.
“We should only think about the game afterwards after we have played the one straight in front of us.”