STEVEN Fletcher’s role in the Capital One Cup final is weighing heavily on Gus Poyet’s mind, as the Scotland striker fights for a starting spot at Wembley.
Fletcher continues to train unscathed after returning to the fold eight days ago, following almost three weeks on the treatment table with an Achilles injury.
Sunderland opted not to risk the 26-year-old at Arsenal last weekend, but he is likely to play some part against Manchester City in Sunday’s final.
But Poyet continues to ponder whether Fletcher – who has not started a game since last month’s semi-final second leg against Manchester United – will be most effective from kick-off or from the bench.
The Sunderland boss told the Echo: “It’s one of the biggest calls for me.
“He’s trained for the last two days, but we need to see how he reacts this week.
“We need to see if this week puts any stress back on his Achilles.
“At the moment, he’s looking good, but we’ll have to see.
“It’s a decision; a big decision to be honest.
“If you start him, you know he’s going to have to come off sooner or later.
“But if you start with someone else, you have to use him at the right time.”
Poyet does not have any other worries for the weekend though, with long-term injury victim Keiren Westwood and the cup-tied Liam Bridcutt Sunderland’s only absentees.
Neither does the Uruguayan have concerns over the fitness of central defender Wes Brown, who is likely to be recalled to the starting XI after serving a two-match ban, which has kept him in the stands for the last three weeks.
“Wes is alright,” Poyet added.
“But it’s great for me to have the whole squad available.
“There’s only Westy missing and Liam Bridcutt, who is cup-tied.
“Training has been intense this week, but I expected that, to be honest.”
* Football Echo Cup Final Special on sale now!