GUS POYET has pledged to field as strong a starting XI as possible in this weekend’s FA Cup third round clash with Leeds United.
Sunderland face their fifth game inside a fortnight on Sunday, when Championship Leeds visit the Stadium of Light - the first time the two sides have met in the FA Cup since the Black Cats’ famous Wembley victory in 1973.
But Poyet has a number of injury concerns prior to facing the club where he spent 13 months as assistant manager.
Lee Cattermole has been ruled out with a groin strain, while Wes Brown will almost certainly not feature either.
And with concerns over the likes of Santiago Vergini, Billy Jones and Seb Larsson too, Poyet expects to make changes, albeit he will attempt to keep them to a minimum.
“It’s not going to be an experiment or playing a weakened side,” said Poyet today.
“I’m going to try to change not too many.
“But when I mean not too many, I mean I’m going to try to play the best team I can play from the first-team squad.
“Sometimes, we are a little bit harsh when we say if you play Fletch up front and don’t play Connor, it’s one change.
“But with that change, you’re talking about Fletcher who didn’t play the other day not because of his form.
“It depends on how you make your changes.
“Saying that, yes, we’ve got a few problems.
“There’s players who’ve been playing with some pain and we need to be careful.
“We need to be careful because we don’t want to lose any players for next week.
“But we want to put the best team out that we can.”
However, Poyet will be boosted by the return of Liam Bridcutt after the midfielder missed yesterday’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester City as he recovered from concussion.