Sunderland boss Advocaat only looking ahead

Dick Advocaat

Dick Advocaat

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DICK ADVOCAAT insists he can only play the hand he has been dealt, rather than bemoan his threadbare options to keep Sunderland in the Premier League.

During his six weeks at the Sunderland helm, Advocaat has identified both a lack of physical presence and pace in the squad he inherited from predecessor Gus Poyet.

We have to do it with this squad and there is no reason to complain about what we do or don’t have.

But Advocaat has no opportunity to bring in reinforcements to help Sunderland’s bid to remain in the top flight, while six prominent first-teamers were absent for last weekend’s draw at Stoke City.

The head coach notably only used one substitute at the Britannia Stadium from a bench that included youngsters Liam Agnew and George Honeyman.

But Advocaat says now is not the time to criticise the shortcomings in the Sunderland squad, with his job solely revolving around getting sufficient out of those players that ARE available during the five remaining games.

He told the Echo: “We have to do it with this squad and there is no reason to complain about what we do or don’t have.

“We knew when we started here that this is the squad.

“I don’t think this is the moment to be talking about this, this and this.

“We can say things, but there’s no reason to do it now.

“Normally, you try to build a team when you start the season.

“Now we have to do it during the season.”

Advocaat’s options will be boosted by the return of Seb Larsson against Southampton this weekend after the completion of the Swedish international’s two-match ban, while there is an outside chance of centre-half Wes Brown being available on Saturday, following a knee injury.

But Emanuele Giaccherini, Ricky Alvarez and Steven Fletcher are on the treatment table, with the trio unlikely to feature again this season.

And Advocaat must also make a decision on whether to include Adam Johnson against the Saints after admitting the £10million winger was not mentally fit enough to face Stoke, after being charged with three counts of sexual activity with a child under 16 and one of grooming last week.