Selection dilemmas facing Sunderland boss ahead of Tyne-Wear derby

Lee Cattermole. Picture by FRANK REID

Lee Cattermole. Picture by FRANK REID

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Several Sunderland players will be left down-hearted at being left out of the Black Cats squad tomorrow, believes Sam Allardyce.

With only long-term casualty Duncan Watmore (ankle) and new signing Emmanuel Eboue (hamstring) on the treatment table, Allardyce has virtually a fully-fit squad to pick from for this weekend’s Tyne-Wear derby and that has left the Sunderland boss with several selection dilemmas.

Skipper John O’Shea and Younes Kaboul are battling to partner Lamine Kone in central defence, Lee Cattermole and Seb Larsson are options to return in midfield and Jermain Defoe is likely to be restored to the side.

And with plenty to ponder, Allardyce says some players are going to be distraught at missing out on a place on the bench, let alone the starting XI.

Allardyce said: “The squad is going to have some very excited players who get picked to start, some disappointed players who are subs, and some even more disappointed players who are not even on the bench.

“That’s how big our squad is now in terms of selection, which is a very good thing between now and the end of the season.

“Everybody is being challenged for their place – no-one is guaranteed to play – and hopefully that, in itself, is a motivation for them.

“You have to play really well to keep your place now, and play better than you have ever performed this season.”