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The Roker Roundup: Friday 26th February 2016

What's occurring today, then?

Allardyce Wary Of Payet Threat

Sam Allardyce has warned that Sunderland must contain star man Dimitri Payet if his side are to escape unscathed from Upton Park tomorrow.

Big Sam told SAFC.com:

We must be prepared to contain a West Ham side who since they have got Payet back from injury are doing great things. (They’re) scoring goals and obviously getting quite a few good results. Since they have got Payet back they have become a different force in attacking terms.

Sam also explained that Sunderland will be going for the maximum points in all the games they play coming up, such is the nature of the threat of relegation.

It will be a difficult task for us but I sense the players have got a lot more belief in themselves with recent results.

I sense they feel more comfortable with the situation to try and strive to get away from the bottom three.

We have three big games - two away and one at home – and we have to try and maximise our points total as much as we possibly can to try and alleviate our position.

Bilic Hypes Up Sunderland Attack

Slaven Bilic has told that Sunderland have real quality in attack and have a great chance of staving off relegation again.

He told Skysports:

He (Sam Allardyce) has improved the squad, they are very organised and showing quality and character. They got four points from Liverpool away and Manchester United at home – any club in the world would take that.

They are organised, stubborn, but they have quality on the break. There is still a long way to go and they are there. They definitely have a good chance to stay up.

We've certainly looked more organised recently, and with rumours that we're set to name an unchanged side for the first time in two years lingering it would suggest Sam is close to finding a system and starting eleven that works. Fingers crossed we get a result tomorrow.

Kirchhoff On Dubai Trip

German utility man Jan Kirchhoff feels that the squad's recent trip to Dubai will bring the Sunderland squad closer together.

It's important to remember that the new players were instantly thrust into life as a Premier League player and, though all have performed to an acceptable level, it should be noted that in going away on a trip together the players will have had more time to get to know each other and develop bonds, something Kirchhoff feels will benefit Sunderland going forward. He said:

It was good for us as a team because we have had a lot of new players to integrate so it was good to spend a lot of time with the guys and get to know each other and grow up as a group.

It's important because it is not all about the individual qualities it's about how we have to act and play as a team. I think it has been a big benefit for us to be successful.

Three Games Moved Due To TV Coverage

Loads of consideration and thought by TV bosses went into the decision making process behind fixture changes for Sunderland in April, with the relegation six-pointer away at Norwich on Saturday, April 16th now moved to the earlier time of 12:45pm in order for the game to be shown live on BT Sport.

The Leicester City game at the Stadium of Light the week prior has moved from the Saturday to the Sunday - a 1:30pm kick off - whilst the game at home against Arsenal on the 23rd of April will now take place the following day, the 24th - a 2.05 kick off. This game may also be moved again, though, as any progression Arsenal make in the FA Cup will ensure that they play on that weekend.

These things really piss me off, as clearly no consideration for the fans that may well have already bought their accomdation and trains is ever taken. Norwich is a fairly lengthy away trip and making it an earlier kick off helps nobody but the TV station. Shame on you, BT.

Eboue Decision To Be Made Next Week

Sam Allardyce has confirmed that the decision to be made over whether or not to offer former Arsenal right back Emmanuel Eboue will be made after the player takes part in a practice game next week.

Eboue has trained with the club for a number of weeks in order to prove his fitness and, provided he can show management that he's ready to get back to playing, he may well be offered a short term deal.

Allardyce said:

By next week we’ll take a view and give a him a decision. It was about getting him fit, because he hadn’t played for so long.

I feel this also hinges on whether or not DeAndre Yedlin puts another good performance in tomorrow. If he does, you have to consider whether or not we really need Eboue.