HIGH-FLYING Sunderland boss Peter Reid last night brought his players down to earth with a bump on the eve of their Worthington Cup quarter-final at Crystal Palace with the warning: "We ain't done nothing yet."

The Wearsiders, fifth in the Premiership after four consecutive victories, travel to Selhurst Park firm favourites to earn a semi-final tie against Liverpool or Fulham, who play tomorrow night.

Reid said: "I think we are playing well and we proved against Middlesbrough that we can dig out results when we need to, which shows we have character as well as ability.

"But you get nothing for doing well in November and December - you have to keep it going.

"We ain't done nothing yet. We are on a good run but the next three or four weeks are going to be crucial."

Reid has no need to be reminded of what happened last season, when a 5-0 Boxing Day defeat at Everton started a 12-game run without a win, which saw Sunderland slip from third to eighth.

The manager is determined that his team will not fall into the same trap and, anticipating a hectic holiday period, makes changes for tonight's game.

Republic of Ireland striker Niall Quinn is out with a back injury and Reid has decided to rest Gavin McCann, despite protests from the midfielder, who has played only two full first team games after a ten-month injury absence.

Another long-term casualty, Swedish midfielder Stefan Schwarz, comes back after three impressive displays in the reserves, while Slovakian international Stanislav Varga will return in the heart of defence.

Brazilian Emerson Thome, having treatment for a thigh injury, could be rested before Saturday's tough match at Leeds.

Reid, however, is not making the wholesale changes he adopted in the earlier rounds against Luton Town and Bristol, and he dearly wants to progress to the semi-finals of the competition for the second time in three years.

He said: "It is certainly a game we are desperate to win.

"It is the quarter-final of a major competition and bringing in two international captains shows how highly we regard it.

"Palace are on a terrific run - they have gone ten games without defeat - and it is going to be a really difficult game. But I feel my players are up for it."

In-form midfielder Alex Rae, whose recent performances have been catching the eye of Scotland manager Craig Brown, is relishing playing against the club he almost joined two years ago.

Sunderland had been relegated from the Premiership and Palace were returning to the top flight when the clubs agreed a deal which was never completed.

Rae said: "In hindsight it has worked out well for me. I never really wanted to leave Sunderland.

"But I was going through a difficult time. I didn't particularly want to return to London but I would have gone back if my options here had been limited.

"But the gaffer said to me that if the deal didn't go through I was still very much in his plans."

Rae admitted: "The first 18 months I had at Sunderland weren't the best but I think I have been playing well in the last couple of years and I think I have come good here."

Rae's blistering strike at Charlton at the end of last month ended a sorry run of top-flight results in London for Sunderland and the Scottish B international is hoping that he can help erase some unhappy memories of Selhurst Park, where Sunderland were relegated two years ago against Wimbledon, the side which also knocked them out of the Worthington Cup last season.

Rae said: "With two teams using the ground the playing surface is not the best.

"I scored an important goal at Charlton and it would be nice to score another one like that.

"It's going to be a tough game. Palace are on a good run and we are in for a tough ride - but this is a great opportunity for us because there are not many big clubs left in the competition."

Reid is hoping that he can call upon the services of London-born striker Danny Dichio to take the place of Quinn.

Sunderland (from): Sorensen, Williams, Thome, Varga, Craddock, Gray, Kilbane, Rae, Schwarz, Arca, Phillips, Dichio, Oster, Lumsdon, Thirlwell, Roy, Marriott.

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