SUNDERLAND boss Gustavo Poyet has dropped captain John O'Shea to the substitutes' bench for this evening's Premier League game at Tottenham.

O'Shea was partly to blame for both West Ham goals last Monday as the Black Cats slipped to a 2-1 home defeat that saw their relegation fears intensify.

And the Republic of Ireland international has paid a heavy price for his errors as he does not feature in the Black Cats' starting line-up at White Hart Lane.

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Instead, Carlos Cuellar comes into the side for his first start since the start of November as Poyet sticks with his five-man defence.

Cuellar will play alongside Wes Brown and Santiago Vergini as Sunderland look to close the seven-point gap that currently separates them from safety.

The only other change to the side that started against the Hammers sees Adam Johnson replace Connor Wickham. Johnson is expected to start in an attacking role alongside Fabio Borini.

Jozy Altidore has not even made the matchday 18, and is currently playing for Sunderland's development side in a home game against Spurs at the Stadium of Light.

TOTTENHAM (4-4-2): Lloris; Naughton, Kaboul, Chiriches, Rose; Lennon, Chadli, Paulinho, Eriksen; Adebayor, Kane.

Subs: Friedel (gk), Fryers, Veljkovic, Bentaleb, Sandro, Sigurdsson, Townsend.

SUNDERLAND (5-3-2): Mannone; Bardsley, Brown, Cuellar, Vergini, Alonso; Bridcutt, Cattermole; Ki; Johnson, Borini.

Subs: Ustari (gk), O'Shea, Larsson, Gardner, Colback, Scocco, Wickham.