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Poyet to stick with his best side for cup.

Byline: James Hunter Sports Writer james.hunter@ncjmedia.co.uk

GUS Poyet says he is close to settling on his best XI - and has promised to keep changes to a minimum for tonight's Capital One Cup quarter-final date with Chelsea.

Poyet has been in the hotseat at Sunderland for almost two months, and it has taken 10 games of experimentation for him to decide on his favoured starting line-up.

The Uruguayan was happy with his side's performance in the weekend's goalless draw at West Ham United, saying afterwards that it felt for the first time like 'my team'.

And, with Phil Bardsley recovering from the knock that saw him hobble off late in the game at Upton Park and Jack Colback not ready to return after illness, Poyet will name a largely unchanged side for the cup game against his old club.

He said: "Have I found my best XI? I'm close.

"I have been searching for that since I came here, but the other day at West Ham it was close.

"There are still little details to sort out over the next few games, and of course we need to score more goals because that was missing at West Ham.

"But I have a good idea what my best side is now.

"I don't know 100% what my team will be tonight, but I have a pretty good idea.

"There could be one or two changes, but there won't be five or six.

"One or two might need a rest, and one or two might be pushing for a place in the side."

Tonight's game will be Sunderland's fourth this month and they still have another three in December, which means Poyet will have to take the fatigue factor into account.

But he insists he trusts his players to let him know if they need a rest.

"The players are very honest, and they will tell me if they are tired," he said.

"We manage it. "We don't want the opposite. It is no good if a player tells you they are OK, and then when it comes to it they cannot run after an hour."

Sunderland lost 4-3 at home to Chelsea in the league a fortnight ago, and there could be a goal glut again this evening with Poyet pointing out that his side must take risks if they are to make it through to the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since 1998-99. "When you are down near the bottom of the league, you need wins and not draws if you are going to get out of trouble," said Poyet.

"It's the same in the cup. You cannot play for a draw in the cup - you have to take a risk and try to win, and that's what we will do tonight."

CAPTION(S):

Gus Poyet is starting to feel like the Blacks Cats are 'my team' and is pretty close to finding his best 11
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 17, 2013
Words:492
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