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Black Cats desperate to start 2014 out the bottom three
HAVING spent the majority of the season propping up the Premier League table, Gus Poyet admits he will be running into the dressing room to check the league standings on television if Sunderland can overcome Aston Villa at the Stadium of Light.
The Black Cats can climb out of the bottom three with a win this afternoon, providing results from Crystal Palace against Norwich and Fulham versus West Ham go in their favour.
It is the first opportunity Poyet’s side have to climb out of the relegation zone since the early weeks of the season and the Black Cats boss admits being out of the bottom three tonight would be the perfect way to start 2014.
Poyet also admitted it would give his squad a huge physiological boost going into the second half of the season considering many had already written off Sunderland’s chances of surviving as recently as a few weeks ago.
“I tell you what, if we win on Wednesday I'll run in to look at the table,” Poyet revealed. “I'll have a look at it as it comes round on the screen. I've been looking all season and we've always been at the bottom so it would be great if we could see ourselves in a different position.
“I'm desperate to play a game and I expect the players to be the same. We need to do everything possible, again the result cold be unpredictable, but we need to make sure we do everything.”
Poyet made his first signing as Sunderland boss today with Spanish left-back Marcos Alonso joining on loan from Fiorentina for the rest of the season.
Alonso’s arrival is unlikely to be the only transfer activity happening on Wearside this month with Poyet targeting another three or four players to boost his squad and the former Brighton manager hasn’t ruled out going back to the south coast for reinforcements.
Asked if he could go back to Brighton for players, Poyet said: “If I have to, I will. It doesn't make any difference to me because it's Brighton.
“I don't try to think of Brighton in a different way because I've been there. I know everybody there and I know how they do deals. That would make it easier. But it's about the players, not the club. If I'm able to sign a player form Real Madrid, I'll do it tomorrow.”
Alonso won’t make his debut against Aston Villa this afternoon, but Poyet revealed the Spaniard is likely to start Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie against Carlisle.
The Black Cats are also waiting to find out if Adam Johnson has recovered from the illness that kept him out of Saturday’s draw at Cardiff.
“Adam hasn't trained today (Monday), but he's coming in tomorrow (Tuesday). We lost him on the morning of the Cardiff game, he looked really bad when he got to the airport.
“It's not the same virus that Fabio (Borini) had. It just shows you can have a team in your mind and then you can wake up and find that someone's out.”
Alonso’s arrival means there will be competition for places at the back with Andrea Dossena and Phil Bardsley having recently occupied the left-back slot, and Poyet insists such competition could be crucial in his side’s battle against relegation.
“The best thing for a manager is to have competition for places,” Poyet said. “For me, it's quite simple, it would have to be something unique to ensure that someone who doesn't deserve to play plays, or the opposite. If I have to, I will find a way somehow, I will invent a new system to ensure that a player will play if he deserves to. It's up to them.”
There are still issues to be resolved regarding Connor Wickham and Danny Graham, whose loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and Hull City end this month, but Poyet insists he is not in a rush to make a decision on their futures.
He said: “At the moment they're still on loan until the middle of January so we're waiting on things.
“This transfer window make managers mad. You wake up in the morning and it's a different story, an offer comes in that you don't expect for a player, or an agent gets in touch. In everything we do, we're trying to be ready because we don't want to make any decisions too early.”
Sunderland: Mannone, Celustka, O’Shea, Roberge, Bardsley, Johnson, Cattermole, Ki, Giaccherini, Fletcher, Altidore.
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