Sunderland boss stokes up Wembley dream

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet.

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet.

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GUS POYET is glad Sunderland are back on home soil for the Capital One Cup third round.

Sunderland’s reward for a 3-0 victory at Championship outfit Birmingham City last night was a third round tie against Premier League peers Stoke City, in the week beginning Monday, September 22.

The Black Cats were drawn at the Stadium of Light for every round up to the semi-finals in last year’s run to Wembley and Poyet believes that should boost the club’s attempts to return to the national stadium for a second successive season.

Poyet said: “I think it’s always better at home.

“Of course you want a smaller team, but it’s not always possible.

“It will be tough. It’s a good tie, it’s going to be interesting.”

Poyet will doubtless rotate his side again for the next round of the cup after making six changes last night.

The Sunderland boss was criticised last season for making that many changes in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat at Hull City.

But despite a below-par performance for large portions of last night’s game, there was sufficient in Sunderland’s ranks to progress against Birmingham, with several of Poyet’s squad players getting vital minutes on the field.

“If we had lost the game, you would have killed me because we made six changes!” added Poyet. “But they’re all Premier League players – Jordi Gomez, Costel Pantilimon, Billy Jones, Jozy Altidore, Liam Bridcutt and Adam Johnson.

“They’ve been with us for a while and they’ll be very important for us.

“It wasn’t easy to pick the team because I wanted a strong team, but we need to be careful training today, and training and travelling tomorrow for QPR on Saturday.

“It’s incredible that we have to play so many games in a short period of time and then we’ve got two weeks off.”

Sunderland visit Burnley on Saturday, September 20, while Stoke have a televised clash with QPR the same day. The Potters’ usual midweek match night is a Wednesday.

Stoke eased past Portsmouth 3-0 last night, with on-loan Chelsea winger Victor Moses delivering a man-of-the-match performance on his debut as Jon Walters (2) and Peter Crouch scored the goals to sink the League Two side.