Poyet feeling the strain

Gus Poyet is hoping Sunderland can avoid an FA Cup fifth-round replay

Gus Poyet is hoping Sunderland can avoid an FA Cup fifth-round replay

First published in National Sport News © by

Sunderland boss Gus Poyet has admitted a replay is the last thing he wants from Saturday's FA Cup fifth-round clash with Southampton.

The Black Cats' progression in both domestic cup competitions - they will face Manchester City in the Capital One Cup final at Wembley next month - and the postponement of their Barclays Premier League trip to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night means they face a potential scheduling nightmare as they attempt to preserve their top-flight status.

Their home league clash with West Brom and the re-arranged trip to City are still outstanding, and the trip to Liverpool on March 10 would go if either side drew this weekend.

That has left Poyet unable to plan with any certainty for the next few weeks, and that is a source of intense frustration.

The 46-year-old said: "At the moment, it's all in the air, we don't know. And it depends on so many as well, it doesn't [only] depend on us.

"The situation tomorrow is: if we win, we need to postpone Liverpool; if we lose and Liverpool win, we need to postpone Liverpool; if we both lose, then we play that day; if we draw, we don't know when we are going to play the replay and we don't know if we have to postpone Liverpool until we play the replay.

"I'm sorry, it's not normal. It's impossible. We are talking about the next three weeks, we are not talking about three months' time, so it's not normal.

"I don't even want to think about if Manchester City and Chelsea draw on Saturday, when they are going to play the replay.

"Maybe they [City] will play on Saturday before playing on Sunday in the final. I don't know.

"For me, it's embarrassing, not to know today when we have to play a replay if we have to play it. It's embarrassing."

Poyet will send out a different team against the Saints than the one he would have if the game at the Etihad had gone ahead, and he is expecting opposite number Mauricio Pochettino to field a much stronger side than he did when the Black Cats won 2-1 at the Stadium of Light in the Capital One Cup fourth round in November.

However, the Uruguayan, who will hand a debut to January signing Ignacio Scocco, admits a draw would be the worst possible result.

He said: "Is it worse than losing? Yes. I don't know if it makes sense, but yes. You tell me when we would play and then I'll tell you why it's worse."

Defender Wes Brown will belatedly start his suspension, while there will be a chance for midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini, but defender Carlos Cuellar (hip) will be given another week and frontman Steven Fletcher (Achilles) and goalkeeper Keiren Westwood (shoulder) remain on the sidelines.

Southampton have no fresh injury concerns and assistant manager Jesus Perez suggests there will not be wholesale changes at the Stadium of Light.

Steven Davis does not have many fond memories of the FA Cup and is "desperate" to put that right with Southampton this season.

The Northern Ireland captain has certainly not gone wanting in terms of success during his career, winning three Scottish league titles and reaching the UEFA Cup final during his time at Rangers.

Davis also won the Scottish Cup twice and Scottish League Cup three times at Ibrox - success he has got nowhere near to reaching the other side of the border in the FA Cup.

The 29-year-old midfielder has never progressed past the last-16 juncture during spells at Aston Villa, Fulham and Southampton, but has the opportunity to do just that when the Saints travel to Sunderland this weekend.

"I haven't had too many memorable memories about the competition, but I am desperate to change that this year," Davis, an FA Youth Cup winner with Villa, said.

"Obviously I won a few cup competitions in Scotland and it is great to have success. There is no better feeling than lifting a trophy.

"You need quality in the team, which we have, a bit of luck on the day and go out and perform.

"That is what it ultimately comes down to and this season we've shown a good level of consistency overall, but cup competitions bring up their own different opportunities to go out and do things.

"It is a good game to look forward to and one we're hoping to get through."

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