Wes Brown ready for return at Fulham as Sunderland boss Poyet eyes cup changes

Wes Brown could return at Fulham tomorrow
Wes Brown could return at Fulham tomorrow
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WES BROWN will be in contention for tomorrow night’s FA Cup fourth round replay at Fulham, as Gus Poyet ponders introducing a sprinkling of fresh legs.

Sunderland boss Poyet opted not to risk Brown for Saturday’s crucial victory over Burnley after the veteran defender had only trained for two days following a minor problem with his knee which kept him out for the first cup clash against Fulham.

But the 35-year-old will be available at Craven Cottage and is one of several options Poyet is pondering for his starting XI, along with the likes of Steven Fletcher, Emanuele Giaccherini and Ricky Alvarez.

Poyet will name a strong team against the Championship outfit, but is conscious of the physical demands of a hectic period which could see Sunderland play five games inside a fortnight.

“Wes was just my decision (to miss the Burnley game),” said Poyet. “I couldn’t give too much information before the game, but he’d only been training for a couple of days.

“I thought it was better to go with the player (Santiago Vergini) who had been training all the time. But he trained on Saturday and he is available for tomorrow.”

Jermain Defoe, who opened his Sunderland account in the 2-0 win over the Clarets, is one player expected to drop to the bench at Fulham after starting all three games since his arrival from MLS side Toronto.

“I think now we need to be careful,” said Poyet.

“He hasn’t played for a while.

“I talked to him straight after the game on Saturday. And in these cups, you can’t forget there could be extra-time too.”

However, Poyet will now stick with the 4-3-3 formation which he reverted to against Burnley after experimenting with three at the back for the previous two games with Spurs and Fulham.

“Maybe for Tuesday and Saturday we need to refresh, without changing too much and making people think that the cup is not important,” added Poyet.

“Quite the opposite. It’s to make sure we can put in a performance at the same level.

“But in terms of playing with a back four, yes I think that will be the way forward from now.”