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Black Cats squad in for tough 48 hours, says Poyet
SUNDERLAND'S international stars return to a new era on Wearside today and manager Gus Poyet has warned his players they are in for a ‘nightmare’ 48 hours as he attempts to put his stamp on the side ahead of Saturday’s trip to Swansea City.
Poyet, pictured during training today, was installed as Paolo Di Canio’s successor at the beginning of the international break with a big chunk of the squad yet to meet their new boss.
Today presents the first opportunity for the Uruguayan to take training with his full squad and with less than two days until his maiden game in charge of the Black Cats at the Liberty Stadium, there is plenty of work to do.
Sunderland sit rock-bottom of the Premier League and are six points adrift of 17th-placed Fulham after Di Canio’s disastrous reign failed to conjure up a single league win this season.
Poyet is aware of the job in hand and admits enforcing his preferred style of play on the squad will have to wait while he focuses purely on steering the Black Cats away from danger.
The new manager has also inherited 14 players signed by Di Canio in the summer, but Poyet insists he will give everyone a chance to stake their claim for a place in his starting line-up.
“I have spoken to a few of the guys who have been away on international duty. It's not nice for the players to be away when a new manager comes in,” Poyet said. “They will think 'there's a new manager who has come in, I haven’t been around, so I am going to be out of the team'. It's nothing to do with that. Nothing like that.
“I want them all to be relaxed about me being here when they come back to training. I want them to just get themselves back here normal and fit.”
A stand out feature of Di Canio’s reign was his strict training regime that involved players being out on the training field from early in the morning until late in the afternoon.
Poyet, whose first game at the Stadium of Light will be the Wear-Tyne derby next Sunday, has revealed his players are in for a grueling two days getting used to his methods, but the Black Cats boss admits it will be more mentally exhausting than physically.
The former Brighton manager admits it isn’t going to be easy, but insists his main aim will be to instill a belief amongst his players that they are capable of coming away from south Wales with a result.
He said: “The Thursday and Friday before the Swansea game will be unbelievable for them. The amount of information they are going to get is incredible.
“It will be a nightmare for the players coming back. They will all be together for the first time. I need them all in to convince them to be ready.
“It is going to be very demanding for them over those days. Mentally, not physically as much. We need them all to know what has been happening over the last eight days, we need them prepared for the Swansea game.”
Poyet has already revealed that striker Steven Fletcher could make an earlier-than-anticipated return tomorrow.
The 26-year-old dislocated his shoulder in Di Canio’s final game in charge at West Brom and was initially expected to be missing for four to six weeks.
However, Poyet revealed there is a possibility Fletcher will play tomorrow after receiving some good news from his medical department this week.
Fellow striker Jozy Altidore will be on hand should the Scottish international not make it and he will hope to take his impressive form for the USA into Saturday’s game.
Since arriving from AZ Alkmaar in the summer, Altidore has been a regular scorer for his country, but to date he has only managed to find the back of the net once for his club in a 4-2 win over MK Dons in the Capital One Cup.
Captain John O’Shea also returns having scored for the Republic of Ireland in their final World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan on Tuesday night.
* Tickets are still on sale for the Wear-Tyne derby on October 27 (1.30pm KO) with rivals Newcastle having sold-out their allocation.
Sunderland supporters must have a valid membership number and purchasing history recorded on the club’s database in order to buy tickets for this game and a limit of six per customer is in operation. Tickets can be purchased via the hotline 0871 911 1973, in person from the Stadium of Light ticket office, priced from £15 for under-16s, £26 for over 65s and £32 for adults, or via the online box office if a valid purchase history exists.
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