GUS POYET hopes Sunderland can profit from a healthier injury situation after managing to keep their points tally ticking over while down to the bare bones.
Ricky Alvarez and Sebastian Coates are both expected to be on the bench for Sunderland’s trip to Leicester City tomorrow after the South American pair returned to training this week following almost two months on the sidelines each.
With fears eased over the knock Steven Fletcher suffered on international duty and Emanuele Giaccherini and Billy Jones both expected to be back in training next week, left-back Patrick van Aanholt is currently the only long-term absentee on Sunderland’s books.
But despite being hampered by injuries, Sunderland managed to take four points from their last two games to move out of the Premier League’s relegation zone.
And now that his squad is beginning to get back to full strength, Poyet wants to capitalise on that before the hectic festive break inevitably takes its toll.
“I was just trying to make sure we got through those few bad weeks getting points, to make sure when everyone is fit, we make more points,” he said.
“Football is a risk. If you’re a player, your risk is to get injured.
“You need to be a good club and have a good squad to cope with those injuries.
“You’re not going to have 10 bad ones, so it’s just about making sure that you have the right players –quantity and quality – to cope.
“And then manage it the best you can.
“That’s why we always talk about ‘the squad’. It’s not just to sound good. It’s the truth.
“It’s a long season and it’s incredible how competitive this league is.
“There’s going to be contact, going to be efforts made and going to be crazy days.
“Now we’re coming to a moment in Christmas where we play too many games and we’ll lose a few.
“But we’re nearly all there, apart from Patrick.
“That will bring competition and quality in special areas.
“It’s going to be to the benefit of the team and then it’s up to me to pick the right team.”
On-loan Liverpool centre-half Coates, together with Argentine international Alvarez have trained fully all week and will be among the substitutes tomorrow, while Jones and Giaccherini will step up their comebacks next week.
Poyet said: “Coates and Ricky trained with us all week. That’s very good news.
“They were like two young kids starting playing football for the first-team.
“They want to do everything.
“I don’t know if they’ll be able to start, but they’ll probably be on the bench. That’s a good option because we’ve been quite short, particularly at the back.
“Billy from what I’ve seen, should be with us by the middle of next week.
“He’s been doing practically everything, and Giaccherini as well.”
Fletcher came through his return to training unscathed yesterday morning after he was rested for a few days following the ankle knock suffered in Scotland’s Euro 2016 qualifying win over Ireland last Friday which was subsequently shown to be nothing sinister.
“We were pleased that the medical staff of Scotland sent him back, we checked, rested him and he reacted well to the treatment,” added Poyet.
“He needed a rest for two or three days before slowly building him up in the pool and bike.
“We knew if he was out yesterday and there were no reactions, he’d be all right.”