Sunderland can cope with Burnley replay, even with injuries, insists Donald Love

Donald Love says that Sunderland's injury-ravaged squad will cope with having to play an FA Cup replay, and are desperate to give the '˜unbelievable' supporters a cup run to savour.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 12:13 pm
Sunderland's Donald Love tracks Burnley's James Tarkowski. Picture by Frank Reid

Saturday’s 0-0 Stadium of Light draw against Burnley was a game short on inspiration and creativity and the sparse crowd voiced their frustration at the final whistle after enduring a tepid 90 minutes of FA Cup action.

It leaves Sunderland with another game to play as they try to survive without their three stars at the Africa Cup of Nations and a raft of injuries to established first-team players.

They will now have to travel to Turf Moor next Tuesday, in between two crucial Premier League games against Stoke City and West Brom.

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Love, however, says that he still believes there is something special about the FA Cup and wants to give the Sunderland support a famous run in the competition.

He said: “It’s not ideal, especially with the amount of injuries we’ve got, but we’ve just got to go there and beat them.

“Everyone wants a good cup run, especially the fans.

“At the end (on Saturday) they gave us a bit of grief, but they backed us the whole way and I think they understand the way Burnley played.

“You grow up watching the FA Cup, that’s what you watch on TV.

“Now it’s mostly where young lads get their first chance to show what they can do.”

Former Manchester United player Love, who was given a central midfield role on Saturday, felt that Burnley’s tactics stifled Sunderland’s attacking endeavours, but conceded that his side didn’t do enough in possession during the second half.

Love said: “The way the play, with long balls, they kind of shut up shop and tried to get the 1-0 from a set-piece.

“I think if we take our chance in the first half, when Javier [Manquillo] gets in behind, I think we’d win the the game, but it was a frustrating day.”

Sunderland’s closest attempts came from the left boot of Jack Rodwell, who fired over from the edge of the area twice in the first half, before forcing a fine save from stand-in keeper Nick Pope in the second.

Love said it was no surprise to see the central midfielder close, saying that his team-mate’s ‘great technique’ is regularly on show in training.

Elsewhere the side found little incision, and the 22-year-old added that there was possibly a hangover from the 2-2 draw with Liverpool, a game in which Sunderland had little possession and were forced into an extraordinary amount of off-the-ball running and pressing.

Love said: “We did put a lot into that game – we didn’t have the same amount of recovery time as we normally would.

“The atmosphere is always unbelievable here – the fans always back us. We tried to put everything in, but I think the way Burnley played just killed the game.

“The defence was a lot stronger [than at Turf Moor in the previous weekend’s 4-1 league defeat] – it’s always nice to get a clean sheet. We were just unlucky not to get the goal.”