What Tony Mowbray said about Fulham FA Cup tie ,team selection and potential Leeds United fixture

Sunderland are praparing for their FA Cup replay against Fulham at the Stadium of Light – and head coach Tony Mowbray held his pre-match press conference today.

The original fixture at Craven Cottage finished 1-1 after Tom Cairney’s equaliser cancelled out an opener from Jack Clarke.

Sunderland then drew 1-1 at Millwall in the Championship and remain two points of a play-off place.

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The winner of Wednesday’s FA Cup tie will face a home fixture against Leeds United.

Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray. Picture by FRANK REID
Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray. Picture by FRANK REID
Sunderland head coach Tony Mowbray. Picture by FRANK REID

Here’s what was said at the Academy of Light as Mowbray spoke to the media:

RECAP: Tony Mowbray press conference

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That brings us to the end of the broadcast section of the press conference, but Mowbray has also spoken to the written press including our reporter Phil Smith.

We’ll have more from the Black Cats boss and build-up to tomorrow’s match over on the SAFC section of the Echo website.

Mowbray on potential Leeds tie and 1973 cup final

“Leeds isn’t even in my psyche at the moment.

“Fulham feels like a huge mountain to get over first.

“I’m very aware of that cup final of 73 and have talked about it in this room.

“I don’t think the players, with total respect. We have half a dozen young French players in there, I’m not sure they’ve heard of Leeds United, never mind worrying about the next game.

“I just want them to embrace what we are trying to do here and feel emotional about our football club to reach levels in their development.

“We are doing alright and can’t sit here and think about the next round.”

“I think we could have done without the replay.

“We are in a period now when we have a game Wednesday, then Saturday, then Tuesday, then Saturday, then Tuesday.

“If we were to win this game we would have Tuesday and then Saturday.

“With a squad where we are probably going to have a 15-year-old on the bench again and maybe two 17-year-olds, it’s stretching our squad with the injuries we’ve got. We are just a bit short.

“But this game is a great opportunity for young players to feel the atmosphere of playing at the Stadium of Light.”

Mowbray on playing without a striker

“Obviously Geldhardt can’t play.

“We have to find a way as we did for three months when I first arrived.

“Hopefully we will have an attacking force on the pitch that when we have the ball we can ask questions of them and try and threaten their goal

“It’s less easy without a noted centre-forward who likes to play down the middle and wants to be a centre-forward

“We will hopefully ask enough questions of Fulham so we can threaten their goal and to try and win the game.”

Mowbray on reaching a high level

“It’s easier to reach a high level in a one-off football match than consistently play week in, week out at that level.

“You could feel their positional quality and the way they moved the ball around the pitch, pockets of space and they all can handle the ball. It was a tough football match for us.

“We did really well reaching the heights that we got to on that day.

“Three days after that we went into a totally different football match against a team with real physicality and more directness, having to put your body on the line.

“Now a few days later we are going back to a real technical team where we positionally have to be really good to try and stop them.

“It’s difficult to keep adjusting and we will have some decisions to make on the selection of the team with half an eye on the league match at home against Reading that we have to target getting three points.

“It’s just the balance of it really and how often you can go with the same group of young players every match.”

“I think it’s a great challenge for us. We could feel their quality in the first game and with their draw with Chelsea, do they move up to sixth in the Premier League?

“They are having an exceptional season. They made four or five changes against us and yet they are all the same players they rotate in and out of a Premier League game.

“We are expecting a similar sort of fixture very respectful of their talent and their quality which is evident this season. They are not a struggling promoted team.

“We understand the challenge and the test and for us it is that really. Go and challenge yourself again like we did at Craven Cottage.

“We will come out the other end of it. If we don’t win I don’t think we should see it as a crisis. It’s a great game for these young lads to see where they are.”

We’ll start with the Sunderland team news.

Leeds loanee Joe Gelhardt is unavailable for tomorrow’s match as he has already played for Leeds in this year’s competition and is therefore cup-tied.

Defender Dennis Cirkin has also been ruled out after suffering a concussion in the 1-1 draw at Millwall last time out, while Lynden Gooch is still a few weeks away from being able to make his return due to a hip flexor injury.

Alex Pritchard did come off the bench against Millwall after several weeks out with a calf issue.

Ross Stewart, Corry Evans and Elliot Embleton remain out with long-term injuries.

We’ll get a further update from Mowbray later today.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of Tony Mowbray’s pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup match against Fulham.

Mowbray is set to speak to the media at 12:30pm and we’ll have live updates from the Academy of Light.

Stick around and refresh the page for the latest Black Cats news.

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