SUNDERLAND’S lack of full-backs – after John O’Shea filled in at left-back in the 1-0 weekend win over Newcastle – is not Gus Poyet’s only headache for the visit of Hull City on Boxing Day.
After Connor Wickham collected a fifth yellow card of the season and a subsequent one-match ban against the Magpies, Poyet must fill the void left by the 21-year-old out wide.
With the returning Emanuele Giaccherini not deemed fit enough to be risked against Newcastle, Ricky Alvarez is the likeliest contender to take Wickham’s spot and Poyet admits that he has been trying to find a place for the Argentine in the starting XI.
“I need to play Ricky, I need to find a way,” said Poyet.
“I’m trying, it’s not easy and I can’t explain it to him because he’s desperate to play.
“Maybe on Boxing Day?
“That might be a nice day to make the starting line-up and show how important he is for us.”
Hull have injury problems of their own, with Steve Bruce forced to recall winger Tom Ince and left-back Maynor Figueroa from loan spells in the Championship yesterday.
Bruce’s men have only taken two points from their last eight games, but Poyet admits he has had to brush up on the side who triumphed in all three meetings with Sunderland last season.
Poyet added: “To be honest, I watched Newcastle a lot, but I’ve only watched Hull in a couple of games. This week is going to be an interesting one to really concentrate on what they’ve been doing.
“They’ve been missing players, so it’s a different approach to Newcastle.”