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Cats' Depth Has Poyet Purring

The FA Cup performances of some of his fringe players has given Gus a few dilemmas, he reckons.

Paul Thomas

Evidence of Sunderland's squad depth was a major positive for Gus Poyet after watching his side knock Southampton out of the FA Cup.

Poyet made nine changes from the team that started the Hull game and also switched systems to play two strikers. Yet his second string side still contained nine full internationals and never really looked like losing the tie, and with a fixture pile-up on the cards that is something that the Uruguayan could barely hide his delight over.

He told the Sunderland Echo:

Lee [Cattermole] was great - I'm so glad we managed to keep hold of him in the transfer window - and the great thing now is that I have a dilemma with Liam Bridcutt.

I know that Liam cannot play in the final against Manchester City because he is cup-tied, so I have to think about Lee - and that might influence my thoughts in terms of the Arsenal game.

Craig Gardner got a great goal, Fabio Borini enjoyed the chance to play up front, Emanuele Giaccherini played well, Santiago Vergini looks increasingly comfortable. I could go on.

That's all good for us because, with so many games coming up, we need all the players to come to the party.

We need players who can be key players for us to be on their best form. And we need those who can play a part to also give us their best.

That was one of the reasons why I was pleased that Ondrej Celustka got a full 90 minutes under his belt - he needed them because he has to be ready.

And Andrea Dossena too. If anything happens to Marcos Alonso, it will be Andrea who comes in - so to get some match practice into him was also a big help.

There were certainly a few sighs of disdain around when news of the team emerged before the game. I'm happy to admit I wasn't all that enthused by a couple of the names.

Really can't fault the performance, though. Giaccherini especially really put in a fine performance in central midfield, reminding everyone of both his quality and versatility, and Connor Wickham showed from the bench that he has loads to offer too I thought.

Given that, for us, European football has always generally just been one of those things that other teams do, the sheer amount of fixtures that the domestic cup exploits are throwing up this season is very much unknown territory. You suspect that squad rotation will play a massive part in the rest of our season.

By the time we play Arsenal, players such as Ki Sung-Yueng, Jack Colback, Phil Bardsley, Marcos Alonso and Adam Johnson won't have played for two weeks and will likely feel the benefit of that freshness, with other players staking a strong case in the meantime. That has to be seen as a massive positive.