GUS Poyet believes he is getting closer to finding his best Sunderland team.
And for that reason, he will keep the changes for tonight’s Capital One Cup quarter-final tie against Chelsea down to a minimum.
The Uruguayan has steered Sunderland through 10 games since taking over the troubled club in mid-October and has yet to name the same side in consecutive games.
But he was heartened by the display of many of his players in the goalless draw against West Ham at the weekend in a 4-1-4-1 formation and says gradually the first-team picture is coming together.
“If you ask me how have I found my best 11 or my starting 11, I would have say I’m close,” he told the Echo.
“I’m close. So it is not the time to be making a load of changes.
“I’ve been searching for that best side since I came here and against West Ham it was not perfect but it was getting there in terms of what I think is probably the best team we have available.
“Given that we played so well against West Ham and controlled the game and should have won it, I don’t intend to change the side too much for the game against Chelsea because I want to see if we can maintain that sort of standard.
“All the statistics suggested we were the better side against West Ham – we just couldn’t get a goal – but I do feel as though we are getting there.
“There will be a little bit rotation in the games ahead and we will see what happens there because if we start scoring a goal or two because of the changes, that might make the difference.
“But I think the West Ham game showed we are improving.”
Poyet was keeping his cards close to his chest in terms of his team for tonight’s cup tie against his former club, although he has revealed that Jack Colback’s absence with a virus continues, while Phil Bardsley (pictured above), who limped off in the closing stages against West Ham, will be fit to play a part if required.
“I don’t know exactly the team, but I’ve got a pretty good idea,” he said. “It could be one or two changes, but it’s not going to be five or six.
“There are a few players that need to play for different reasons and other ones who need to stay in the side.
“But if you manage that correctly, then it helps you, especially if there’s a player who needs a rest.”