Wednesday 21 February 2018

Poyet must shuffle the deck for Sunderland's FA Cup tie

Gustavo Poyet seems certain to make changes for Sunderland's FA Cup replay against Fulham. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Gustavo Poyet seems certain to make changes for Sunderland's FA Cup replay against Fulham. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Jack Pitt-Brooke

There may be more alluring rewards in football than a trip to Bradford City but Fulham and Sunderland meet at Craven Cottage tonight knowing that a win would put them within reaching distance of the FA Cup sixth round.

The winners of this fourth round replay will take on League One Bradford - who famously won 4-2 at Stamford Bridge - at Valley Parade on Sunday week with a place in the quarter-finals as the prize for the winners.

That gives this replay higher stakes than some might think.

Yet, both teams may well have a different priority. Fulham and Sunderland both desperately want to be in the Premier League next season, although that is far more likely for the visitors.

Relegation

Gus Poyet's side won last Saturday to move up to 14th place in the table, four points clear of the relegation zone.

Their next three league games are against Swansea, Queen's Park Rangers and West Bromwich.

Seven or nine points from those fixtures would be invaluable, so Poyet seems certain to make changes for tonight's match.

Ricky Alvarez and Emanuele Giaccherini are in line to start, while John O'Shea may be rested.

Fulham are 13 points from the Championship play-off places and need to go on a run to reach the top six.

Kit Symons does not have all his players to pick from tonight, with captain Scott Parker and Emerson Hyndman both doubtful. (© Independent News Service.)

Irish Independent

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