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Moyes hints Pickford may start in goal; Says jobs decision 'had to be taken', so who is to blame?

In this evening's news recap: David Moyes has been discussing who starts in goal at Everton and has indicated that Jordan Pickford is fit and ready for consideration as Sunderland ponder how to nullify Romelu Lukaku; meanwhile the manager was also forced to explain the business rationale behind this week's redundancy announcement, but who is to blame? And in other news, Jeremain Lens has been attracting criticism in Turkey for his performances in the Europa League.

Sunderland v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Pickford in goal tomorrow?

Who plays in goal tomorrow is probably the biggest team selection poser ahead of Sunderland's trip to Everton.

Jordan Pickford, who has lifted himself from promising young goalkeeper to the verge of the England squad this season, has missed the last eight weeks with a knee injury he picked up on Boxing Day.

Sunderland v Watford - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

In his absence Vito Mannone has conceded seventeen goals in nine games but he did keep consecutive clean sheets against Tottenham and Crystal Palace.

Sunderland v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

When asked at his press conference this morning, David Moyes confirmed Pickford is now available for selection having had the nod from the medical team who had overseen his recovery from a stretched cruciate ligament.

And not many supporters would back Mannone to keep his place after his shaky performance against Southampton last time out.

The Italian has come under fire for his indecision, lack of command at the back and his pedestrian approach to distribution, and whilst he wasn't directly at fault for the Saint's four goals, he was slow to react to Gabbiadini's opener and might have done better for others.

On Pickford's chances of returning to his spot in goal, Moyes said:

Jordan is back in training and we just need to see if he's ready. He's been out for a while, but he's trained and he looks fine but he's had the best part of six to eight weeks out.

But when pressed, the Sunderland boss indicated he may have already made a decision about who will be his goalkeeper for the game against Everton:

We had to make sure he got over the date the surgeon had set for his knee to be healed. He's over that date now. He's had a good week's training this week, so we'll see.

Jeremain Lens gets stick for his Europa League showing

He might have begun his season at Fenerbahçe in good form, but Jeremain Lens has got some stick this week for his showing in the Europa League.

The Sunderland winger who is on loan in Turkey put in some decent showings for Dick Advocaat's side in the early part of this campaign and even earned himself a recall to the Dutch national team, but Fenerbahçe fans have been questioning him of late and pondering who their club could sign as an upgrade.

Lens was ineffective against Russian club Krasnodar mid-week, as this stat points to.

Fenerbahçe were knocked out of the European competition after losing 2-1 on aggregate and former Sunderland boss, Dick Advocaat, is under enormous pressure after a disappointing season in Turkey.

Moyes urges his men to nullify Lukaku

Everton's on-fire striker, Romelu Lukaku, is the man Sunderland have to stop at Goodison Park tomorrow if David Moyes is to enjoy his return to the club he left three years ago. And the job of halting the 23-year-old Belgian might just fall to his countryman, Jason Denayer.

Sunderland v Everton - Premier League
Romelu Lukaku scores his second goal when Everton visited the Stadium of Light in September.
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

The pair may yet make Roberto Martinez' next Belgium line-up, along with Adnan Januzaj, when the squads for the next round of international fixtures at the end of March are announced. On the Everton striker Moyes said:

Lukaku is a really good player and Everton are famed for the number nines - he fits that mould, we have to stop him.

David Moyes suggests jobs decision 'had to be taken', so who is to blame?

Sunderland manager David Moyes, fresh from criticism surrounding his decision to take his players to New York in the same fortnight that the club told ninety staff their jobs were at risk, has suggested that the reason for the redundancies is years of poor management at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Moyes speaking to ITV Tyne Tees said:

It's not just what's happening now, it's what's happened beforehand.

It's had to be a realignment of things at the club and these decisions have had to be taken. So I feel really bad for the people who have lost their jobs.

And whilst Chief Executive Martin Bain released a statement mid-week explaining the business reasons for restructuring at the club, this isn't the first time Sunderland AFC have forced a football manager to present the face of the organisation and explain off-pitch activities.

It was just last season that Sam Allardyce was thrust into the spotlight to try and contain public anger over the Adam Johnson conviction once it was learned that former Chief Executive, Margaret Byrne, had seemingly known of the player's guilt and continued to allow the disgraced midfielder to represent Sunderland.

Certainly the official statement released by Bain this week about the job losses was filled with generic business-babble and so it's been left to Moyes today to present the human face of corporate Sunderland.

And whilst no one can entirely blame Bain or Moyes for the state of the city's football club - this has been coming for years - the lack of anyone who can be held to account at Sunderland AFC is a perplexing issue.

With owner Ellis Short known to be keen to offload the club he bought in 2009, there now appears to be no way back for the American who hasn't been seen at the Stadium of Light for months.

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