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Make Your Case: Should Sunderland Field A Strong Side v Burnley In The FA Cup?

Sunderland take on Burnley this weekend in the third round of the FA Cup and, with injuries piling up, the pressure is on David Moyes with regards to his team selection. Should he pick his strongest team, or should he rest his best players?

Sunderland U23 v PSV Eindhoven U23: Premier League International Cup Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Tom - Play A Strong Side!

I love the FA Cup. I love it from the preliminary rounds to the final. I love the excitement of the third round draw and then the total disappointment when we pull a team from the same division. No matter what the current situation our team finds itself I was always enjoy a cup run, who doesn't?

We are basically a club defined by the FA Cup. It’s the only thing we’ve won since before everyone realised Hitler was a bit of a prick. That’s why I believe that fielding a second string, youth team or whatever you want to call it would be a mistake.

It’s no secret that we’re lacking in numbers thanks to a string of injuries and the start of the African Cup of Nations but since we’re in such mediocre form, wouldn’t a morale-boosting FA Cup victory be the perfect pick-me-up? Fielding a reserve team and getting beat further instills a losing mentality that could create a hangover into crucial games against Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion in the coming weeks.

In 2014, our runs in both the League Cup and FA Cup became the catalyst for the team to believe they could escape relegation. Cup wins against Southampton and Chelsea in the latter stages of 2013 sparked us into life and saw us gain key points against Everton and Cardiff City in the league. And who could forget that magical January 2014 when we not only beat Manchester United over two legs in the League Cup semi-final but also walloped Newcastle, dispatched Stoke, murdered Fulham and beat Carlisle in the FA Cup?

Simply forsaking a competition we are so synonymous with smacks of resignation and a total lack of ambition. A loss to a Burnley side that can’t win away from home for toffee would be horrific and piles pressure on to David Moyes and the players to get points against Stoke and West Brom. Blooding youngsters is something I wholeheartedly approve of but having experienced first team heads next to them is crucial so Moyes will have to find the right balance.

Sam Allardyce purposely sacrificed the FA Cup last year by substituting key players when in a good position at Arsenal and it’s something that annoys me to this day. Football should be about joy and glory, not just concentrating on a miserable relegation fight for the coming months.

Let’s embrace the FA Cup because, let’s be honest, we all love a good cup run.

Gav - Play A Weakened Team

Our players have been dropping like flies for what seems like forever.

And, whilst I'd love for us to have a really good cup run, we've had an incredibly gruelling Christmas period and we've suffered injuries to many first teamers, with our resources now well and truly stretched.

The Stoke game next weekend is massive - our home form has been improved recently and winning that is absolutely vital if we are to get ourselves out of the bottom three. In order to do so, we need to ensure that all of our most important players are fit and ready - none of whom should start the game this weekend against Burnley, in my opinion.

The FA Cup is a fantastic competition but lets face facts, we need to prioritise the league. Give the handful of fringe players that we have a game and then temper that with young players that have earned their chance. Add in players like Jack Rodwell and Fabio Borini who are still attempting to reach peak fitness - and maybe throw in some experience in John O'Shea - and you have the basis for the team that takes on Sean Dyche's side at the Stadium of Light.

Can you imagine if someone like Jermain Defoe or Patrick van Aanholt collects an injury in a game that, really, doesn't mean a great deal to us at this stage?

It doesn't bare thinking about.

I know that it's foolish to worry about things that are out of your control but I'd rather we just minimise the risks and, in turn, give opportunities to some of our younger players.

The likes of Joel Asoro, Josh Maja, Elliott Embleton and Michael Ledger could all feature and if they do, I'll be glad to sit back and see how they cope against tough opposition in Burnley.

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