Liam Bridcutt's unavailability for the Capital One Cup final is tempting Gus Poyet into wrapping Lee Cattermole up in cotton wool when Sunderland travel to Arsenal this weekend.
Cattermole delivered arguably his best performance for the club last week against Southampton, and ordinarily it would have been enough to guarantee him a spot in the side for the next game. With Bridcutt cup-tied, however, the waters have been muddied slightly.
Poyet told the Sunderland Echo:
I have a decision to make over Lee and Liam and it's a very difficult one.
Obviously, Liam is cup-tied from his time at Brighton and cannot play in the cup final and, on top of that, Lee was outstanding in the FA Cup tie against Southampton the other week.
Normally, that would mean Lee stays in the team - he certainly deserves to after the way he has trained this week - but I have to think about the cup final, so that makes it difficult.
If he was to get injured against Arsenal, or even sent off, that would leave us without someone who can play that role in the cup final because Bridcutt is not an option.
It's certainly a tough call to make. I'd personally be open to playing them both against Arsenal, but can you ever really take any chances with Cattermole? He is a player who you never feel you can truly trust to have available more than one game in advance.
So just how much do you allow the cup final to affect the league campaign? That's the big question. But having seen those comments from Poyet today, I'd be very surprised to see Cattermole starting at the Emirates.