GUS POYET admits he has suffered a familiar selection headache in rotating Sunderland’s squad this week.
The Sunderland boss made six changes for Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup tie at Birmingham City, but the Black Cats were still able to progress into the third round of the competition.
There will be further tinkering for tomorrow’s trip to pointless QPR, with Lee Cattermole, Jack Rodwell, Patrick van Aanholt and Vito Mannone all expected to go straight back into the starting XI, while Steven Fletcher and Will Buckley will also hope for a recall.
But Poyet says the balance between giving sparsely-used players minutes on the field and still fielding a winning side, is a difficult one to reach, albeit he had plenty of experience last season in Sunderland’s route to the Capital One Cup final and FA Cup quarter-finals.
“It wasn’t easy to pick the team at Birmingham,” said Poyet.
“I wanted a few players to play, but, at the same time, I didn’t want to change too many.
“I wanted to remain organised and maintain some consistency.
“But we got no injuries and we won the game, which is the most important thing.”
Two players that Poyet perhaps surprisingly kept in his starting XI were central defensive pairing John O’Shea and Wes Brown.
With Sunderland yet to sign a new centre-half this transfer window, keeping the veteran former Manchester United pair fully fit is crucial, with back-up Valentin Roberge struggling in the opening day draw at West Brom.
But with Roberge unavailable for the trip to St Andrew’s, Poyet took the decision to field 30-somethings O’Shea and Brown in the second of three games inside six days, albeit the former Brighton boss is a big believer in keeping continuity at the back.
Poyet added: “Roberge was not available on Wednesday and I didn’t want to change the whole back four.
“The most important area for us to keep consistency is at the back.
“When you make too many changes there, you start conceding goals.
“The idea was to keep it strong there.”