Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce will be forced to rest a number of key players for the FA Cup third round trip to Arsenal at the start of a run of three games in the space of six days. The Black Cats have four players out injured including midfielder Jack Rodwell and Allardyce will rotate his squad for the game at The Emirates Stadium.
Rodwell became the latest addition to the treatment table when he limped off after 30 minutes of the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool. The ex-Manchester City midfielder joins Younes Kaboul, Adam Matthews and Sebastian Larsson on the sidelines.
But ahead of a week of three straight away games at Arsenal, Swansea City and Tottenham Hotspur, Allardyce must shuffle his pack for the cup tie with the onus being on staying in the Premier League. That could lead to the likes of Yann M'Vila, Lee Cattermole, Billy Jones and Patrick van Aanholt all being rested.
"We're still without Younes [Kaboul], without Adam Matthews and Seb Larsson," Allardyce said in a pre-match press conference to preview the Arsenal clash, according to the official Sunderland website. "Everyone else is OK at this moment in time which is pretty good from our point of view, which allows me to use the strength and depth of the squad over the next six days or so.
"It's a tough draw in a tough week which has accumulated two three away games in the space of seven days. Realistically it can't be right for us and for the health of players. Everyone is suffering from a huge amount of injuries. They've occurring for everyone because we're asking the players to do too much. it is a period of time when you have to cram a lot in.
"We will have one youngster playing; the rest of the team will be the players who have played this season in the Premier League. Some of the players have played most of the games; some of them haven't so I have moved the squad around.
"I've rested a couple players who have got niggly injuries and probably won't even travel to get ready for Swansea and Tottenham and hopefully we can manage the situation through and get some results. Saturday is the most game against Arsenal to try and achieve a result against them if we can and stay in the cup if that is at all possible. We will no doubt suffer some injuries after playing three games in a row."