THE returns of Keiren Westwood, Emanuele Giaccherini and Ondrej Celustka this weekend have boosted Gus Poyet’s hopes of success in tomorrow’s game against Manchester City.
And the Black Cats’ head coach admits that he is delighted that the trio have all come through fitness tests ahead of the game.
“Keiren was the least of my worries,” he revealed. “To be honest, it was touch and go whether he played against Southampton on Wednesday or not.
“I think he could have and ordinarily he might have. If it was Thursday he would have been fine.
“But we head injuries involving goalkeepers have had a high profile in recent days and we decided to take no risks at all - particularly with Vito Mannone having played so well against Hull.
“And that gives me an interesting decision to make in terms of selection this weekend - a difficult one, but a good one for a manager to face because competition for places increases the level of performance and we need to be at our very best this weekend if we are to do well against Man City.”
Similarly, Giaccherini and Celustka’s availability is a bonus, given the way both exited the field against Southampton on Wednesday in obvious pain.
“They have worked hard,” said Poyet.
“I don’t want to say that they worked morning, noon and night because that gives the wrong impression.
“But I will say they have been working very hard with the medical staff in a lot of sessions and they came in on Friday feeling fine.
“That’s great for me because I genuinely thought that one or both of them would not be available this Sunday.
“Now I have a fully fit squad, options to consider and the chance of putting out a good bench too, which is important.”