Cup Countdown: Sunderland likely to be at full strength

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MANAGER Bob Stokoe’s biggest worries over the tough schedule laid down for his players as they prepare for a do-or-die effort to reach the FA Cup semi-final by beating Luton Town in a sixth round tie at Roker Park on Saturday are drawing to a close writes Argus.

With some relief he said: “We have done most of the hard work now and it is going well. Ian Porterfield had to take it easy this morning because he felt soreness in his injured toe and Dick Malone has a little ankle trouble, but Vic Halom who stood down yesterday afternoon with a little soreness at the back of a leg was in training again today.

“There is so much liveliness in the training and tremendous enthusiasm all round that it is a little bit worrying at times. But the hardest part is over now.”

He will not be making his team announcement until nearer the weekend. It seems certain that all the first team pool will be fit and available leaving him the decision of who will wear the No. 6.

The candidates are Richie Pitt and David Young and on the strength of his two performances against Manchester City it appears that Pitt is favourite to get the job.

Keith Barber, Luton’s first choice goalkeeper, who fractured a leg in training only a month ago, has made a remarkable recovery. He is being given a try-out in a reserve game at Orient tonight and stands a very good chance of winning a place in the team for Saturday.

Taylor in charge

Jack Taylor, Britain’s top referee and one of the leading officials in the world, will be in charge of Saturday’s Roker Park game.

A Football League official for the past 15 years, the 42-year-old Wolverhampton butcher is known for his strict control of matches. A firm, disciplinarian, Taylor was the official who reported George Best for knocking the ball out of his hands after a Football League Cup match against Manchester City.

For this offence, Best was subsequently fined and banned for a month.

Taylor, who rates his 1970 World Cup appointment in Mexico as the height of his refereeing career, still feels that the appointment of professional referees would make no difference to the control of matches.

He says: “Referees, like players, have good and bad days. I maintain and I always have that the best referees are the ones you do not notice.”

In the past, Taylor has refereed the 1962 FA Amateur Cup Final and in 1966 was in control of the Everton-Sheffield Wednesday FA Cup Final. He also holds the distinction of having refereed over 30 international matches in different parts of the world.

Stories taken from the Sunderland Echo on March 14 1973.