Sunderland Analysis: Does Sam Allardyce have to introduce fresh legs at Spurs?

Wes Brown tackles Swansea's Andre Ayew
Wes Brown tackles Swansea's Andre Ayew
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Twelve months on, the piece of business which saw Sunderland swap flop Jozy Altidore for proven frontman Jermain Defoe is looking even more of a masterstroke from Lee Congerton.

Sunderland’s recruitment over recent years has been notoriously ropey, but Defoe is one that the club have very much got right after Sam Allardyce has begun to bring the best out of the England international.

How much of a factor will fatigue be at White Hart Lane?

Congerton - now limited to tending the garden as he sees out the final stages of his Sunderland contract - brought in Defoe as a short-sharp solution to the Black Cats’ scoring woes, yet he remains the talisman for the club’s hopes of Premier League survival.

After five goals in his last two Premier League outings, Defoe is now just one away from becoming the first Sunderland player since Steven Fletcher in 2012-13 to reach double figures in the top flight in a single season.

Fatigue will not be a factor for Defoe as he prepares for his second 90 minutes in the space of 72 hours.

Defoe will be chomping at the bit to continue his scoring streak tomorrow, particularly at his old stomping ground where he enjoyed such success over a couple of spells.

The 33-year-old looks after himself too. He’s one member of the Sunderland squad who has welcomed Sam Allardyce’s use of ice baths.

But what about Defoe’s team-mates? How much of a factor will fatigue be at White Hart Lane?

Certainly - as Allardyce says - the win at Swansea will have eased tired legs and tired minds, which suddenly won’t feel quite as jaded.

Spurs have the same limited time to recover too after a ludicrously scheduled midweek Premier League fixture so soon after the festive programme.

But unlike Allardyce, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has the luxury of a whole squadron of players in reserve; those who can come into a side which lost against Leicester in midweek and not necessarily prompt a downturn in quality.

Allardyce’s options to shuffle his pack are far more limited and ideally, he wouldn’t necessarily want to change a host of personnel either after fielding what was arguably his strongest XI at the Liberty Stadium.

Will there be changes though?

The main worry will revolve around whether Wes Brown can play two games with such a quick turnover, albeit he managed to do it against Liverpool and Aston Villa earlier this month.

With new signing Jan Kirchhoff still short on match fitness, the inconsistent Sebastian Coates is the only real alternative to Brown, but Allardyce may have to turn to the Uruguayan.

Duncan Watmore would offer fresh legs to the front three, while Jack Rodwell could provide similar service in the middle of the park, where Yann M’Vila was uncharacteristically sloppy at Swansea.

Perhaps there could be a change in goal too after Vito Mannone had a big let-off with what would have been a howler in south Wales.

Mannone was shaky in the moments after he was spared by the linesman’s flag and Jordan Pickford - who looks a more likely contender than the out-of-favour Costel Pantilimon - is desperate to secure that number one spot for himself.

Despite the quick turnaround of games though, there has to be a suspicion that Allardyce will keep his changes to the minimum.

One player who will certainly be starting is Defoe.