SUNDERLAND’S crowded striker options led Gus Poyet to rule out a summer reunion with Leonardo Ulloa.
Leicester top scorer Ulloa will come up against his former Brighton manager Poyet at the King Power Stadium tomorrow after the now Sunderland boss was responsible for signing the Argentine frontman from La Liga outfit Almeria in January 2013.
After Ulloa netted 23 goals in 47 Championship starts in his 18-month stint for Brighton, Sunderland were mooted as possible suitors for the 28-year-old during the summer.
However, with four orthodox central strikers – Steven Fletcher, Connor Wickham, Jozy Altidore and Danny Graham – already at Poyet’s disposal, Sunderland turned their attentions elsewhere.
Instead, it was newly-promoted Leicester who made an £8million move for Ulloa and he immediately repaid that investment with five goals in his first five games for the Foxes.
“I had no doubt that someone would buy him,” said Poyet.
“If you looked at the Championship, he was the main man.
“But we had four players who were able to play in the middle.
“It was not about how much I liked him, it was that we had Danny, Jozy, Fletch and Connor.
“He was not the player we were looking for, so he was not under consideration.
“But I’m pleased he’s doing well.
“I went to see him in Spain and I was very pleased we were able to sign him.
“We helped each other at Brighton, which is a nice feeling.
“I can give John (O’Shea) and Wes (Brown) more information about him than any other striker.
“But he’s a striker that if he gets delivery, he will have a chance and we need to cope with that.”
While Ulloa began his Leicester career with a bang, he has drawn a blank in his last six games – a run which has seen Nigel Pearson’s side register a solitary point and find the net just twice.
However, despite Leicester’s slump into the bottom three, Poyet believes it is far too soon to be branding the Foxes as being destined to remain engulfed in the drop zone.
Poyet said: “Nigel will know that it’s tough. It’s tough to get even one point in the Premier League.
“If you make one mistake, you pay for it.
“I think they are a team that will win games and can make it difficult if they are all in tune.
“They are just going to be one of the teams that are in the bottom 12 or 13.”
Leicester have taken Sunderland’s place in the relegation zone after the Black Cats’ mini-revival has seen them register four points from the last two games.
And while Leicester fans will sense tomorrow’s encounter as a chance to end their barren stretch, Poyet says Sunderland must also look to the clash as an opportunity to build on the win from their last away outing at Crystal Palace.
“We know it’s going to be noisy and their fans are loving the opportunity of being in the Premier League,” he added.
“Saying that, we managed in an incredible way against Palace and we can do it again.
“It’s a good opportunity for us as well as them, to maintain consistency and show that we can cope in these kind of games.”