Tony's Talking Points: SAFC head coach discusses Fulham replay

Sunderland battle Premier League Fulham in a replay of their Emirates FA Cup fourth round tie at the Stadium of Light.

Luke O’Nien is available for selection after serving a three match ban. However, Tony Mowbray will be without Joe Gelhardt, Joe Anderson and Isaac Lihadji who are ineligible to play in the competition.

The Black Cats boss has been discussing some of the key issues surrounding the game in his press conference…

Tony, how much are you looking forward to the replay against Fulham?

TM replied: “It’s a great challenge for us. We could feel their quality in the first game and with their draw with Chelsea, they moved up to sixth in the Premier League. They are having an exceptional season.

“They made four or five changes against us yet they are all the same players that they rotate in and out for every Premier League. We’re expecting a similar sort of fixture. We are very respectful of their talent and quality.

“That is evident this season, they are not struggling as much. They are team around the top six of the Premier League. We understand the challenge and the test.

“For us, it is about us challenging again like we did at Craven Cottage. If we don’t win, I don’t think we’ll be seeing it as a crisis. It’s a great game for these lads to go and see where they are and see if we can repeat the consistency of the first game where we gave a really decent account of ourselves.”

From an attacking point-of-view, how have your team been preparing for the game?

“We’ve had a discussion about how we are going to threaten them” said the Head Coach. “We have to run behind their back line. When you’ve got players who naturally don’t have that game, you’ve got to train their brains to threaten the space behind. When it’s not their natural game, it becomes difficult.

“We have those players in the squad that if they know their job then hopefully they will adapt their individual attributes to try and help the team find the performance we need.

“We need people to run in behind if we are going to stretch Fulham and create the spaces for our technical players to play in. We’ve done the work on it so let’s see if we can bring it to matchday and try and find a performance similar to the one in the first game.

“We know we played against a good team but give them problems whilst creating some chances.”

February will be a busy month if you can claim victory against Fulham with a fifth round tie against Leeds United potentially on the horizon?

“We are in a period now where we have a game tomorrow and then we have got Saturday-Tuesday. Then if we were to win this game, we would have another Tuesday to Saturday.

“With a squad where we are probably going to have a 15-year-old on the bench and maybe two 17-year-olds on the bench, it’s stretching our squad.

“With the injuries we’ve got and this game, where some players are ineligible because they weren’t available for the first game, we are just a bit short for this game but it is a great opportunity for these young players to feel the atmosphere of playing at the Stadium of Light.”

Back to top