GUS Poyet knows he will have to count on the support of two players he has separately cast aside in recent weeks.
But he believes that both Jozy Altidore and Emanuele Giaccherini will be up for the challenge of saving Sunderland’s skins and showing what they can do in the process.
Altidore was of course famously dropped from the Capital One Cup final squad after a run of poor form was capped by an awful display in the 4-1 defeat at Arsenal.
And after stinging criticism of his players from Poyet following the meek exit to Hull City in the FA Cup quarter-final, it was Giaccherini who paid the biggest publc price by being omitted completely from last week’s squad to face Crystal Palace.
But with Steven Fletcher set to be sidelined for the next few weeks with an ankle - possibly longer - the American striker and the Italian winger are likely to come into their own.
Poyet told the Echo: “I think these could be very important weeks for both Jozy and Giacchy.
“I think that we need them in the games coming up and they both have the capacity to be very influential for the team.”
In Fletcher’s absence, at least one of them can be expected to start each week.
If Poyet persists with Fabio Borini down the left flank, then Altidore can expect to start up front.
If Poyet opts to make use of Borini’s attacking qualities up front, then it will be Giaccherini who is most likely to fill in on the wing.
With that being the case, it is vital that both men react the right way to having been dropped.
And Poyet says he has been impressed with the attitude of both summer signings in the wake of their omissions from the squad.
“They have both responded well to not being in the squad; they have reacted the way I would have hoped.
“Jozy came back into the side and performed well against Crystal Palace and Giacchy too will have opportunities in the weeks ahead.
“It is always tough to be left out of a squad but we have competition for places and it will happen, it is always about how you come back into the side.
“When you are left out, it feels like the worst thing in the world.
“But we have plenty of games remaining and each game is an opportunity for players to show what they are all about.
“I will be delighted if Jozy and Giacchy come back into the side and finish the season really, really strongly for us.”