GUS POYET believes Sunderland’s players will be honest enough to hold their hands up if they need a breather.
Sunderland face the second of three games inside a week in tonight’s Capital One Cup quarter-final, at the start of a hectic festive period which will see the Black Cats play another five times by New Year’s Day.
Several of Poyet’s players looked jaded from their efforts at the conclusion of Saturday’s stalemate at West Ham, with fresh legs expected to be introduced tonight.
But the head coach says there is a relationship of trust between players and staff to ensure Sunderland manage the strain of the Christmas programme.
Poyet told the Echo: “We are very honest and that communication with the players is becoming very good.
“If I ask a player and he says to me ‘I’m tired’ that doesn’t mean he’s not playing. But I know he’s tired for some reason and we can talk about what to do with him and maybe give him a bit more rest.
“We manage it because we don’t want the opposite. The one that says ‘I’m okay’ and after half an hour, he’s dead and can’t run.
“That communication is fundamental for me and I’m sure the players now know why we ask.”
Poyet could be tempted to rest several of his key figures ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash against fellow bottom half side Norwich City, with Sunderland in dire need of victories in the relegation scrap.
But the Uruguayan insists he cannot look any further than tonight’s game against his former club.
“I don’t try to go too far ahead. I only try to analyse this game,” said Poyet.
“If I start thinking about Norwich, it gets difficult to make decisions.
“I just want to prepare the team the best way from the other day, see if anyone needs a rest or not and then pick the best team.
“If we want to get out of the relegation zone, we need to become winners. Let’s see if we can win the next one and use it for that reason.”
Neither does Poyet agree that it is any safer for players to be protected for upcoming games.
“You can pick up an injury in training,” he added.
“If you don’t play someone, they need to train hard.
“It’s not easy. I would say these are easy decisions to make, but I don’t try to plan too much for the following game, because then it’s impossible.”