IT’S a measure of how hectic Sunderland’s schedule has been over the last couple of months that the fortnight ahead – with only one game a week – feels almost like a break!
Gus Poyet has already spoken of his relief at having some scope over the next couple of weeks to work with the players in training, rather than just nursing them through games.
And for us, it’s not a bad time to take stock either.
It has been an incredibly busy time for Sunderland, and with fixtures piling up further down the line, an incredibly busy time will be coming up.
But for the moment, I can’t help feel that Sunderland are in a good place and are actually looking well set to be able to cope with the demands ahead – I think that, as much as anything else, is what the head coach out of the Southampton game.
He made nine changes for the match and not one of the call-ups let the side down.
On the quiet, Sunderland had an exceptionally good January transfer window, with five signings Marcus Alonso, Santiago Vergini, Ignacio Scocco, Oscar Ustari and Liam Bridcutt all looking as though they could make big contributions.
In addition, Lee Cattermole, Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson all enhanced their claims while Andrea Dossena and Ondrej Celustka got game time under their belt and Connor Wickham reminded us he can be a wild-card.
And that’s not mentioning Emanuele Giaccherini, who Poyet has said has been excellent in training and can still provide a bit of a magic to turn a game on his day.
The great thing at the moment, in a way, is that the Capital One Cup final is focusing the minds of everyone at Sunderland.
No-one wants to miss out on that and everyone is trying to raise their game and catch the eye.
There are times at club, particularly in the final third of the season, when there might not be much to play for, that players can become unfocused.
But clearly that is not the case at Sunderland with so much still to play for on so many fronts.
And it is obvious that an injury or suspension for one player, is immediately being seized by a replacement as a chance to shine.
Over the next couple of weeks, Sunderland can enjoy the time to plan and prepare for games as they would ideally like.
But in terms of the busy schedule around the corner, I think the club have shown they are well set enough now, to cope.