Sunderland boss Gus Poyet is wary of the state of the playing surface at Bradford City ahead of the Black Cats’ FA Cup fifth round tie with the League One outfit.
Bradford caused one of the biggest FA Cup upsets in recent memory when they overturned a 2-0 half-time deficit to stun Premier League leaders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the previous round.
The Bantams have their eyes cast on another Premier League scalp on Sunday and Poyet says his players will have to cope with a pitch that has been described as “one of the worst in the country”.
“I wouldn’t like to use the pitch as any excuse but it’s not ideal,” said Poyet. “We have to adapt. We need to be very clever, partly as a team but a lot as individuals.”
Sunderland are 2.21 to make their Premier League class tell, with Bradford priced at 3.25 for another famous victory and the draw 3.13.
Given the state of the playing surface, Poyet admits it will not simply be a case of matching the home side for effort in the early stages before hoping the gulf in class begins to tell.
“We will have to do certain things and avoid certain parts of the game we would normally use,” he added. “Normally the first 15 to 20 minutes is very difficult but then it settles down and you have a little bit more time.”
Poyet can take heart from the fact Sunderland have lost just one of their last ten FA Cup matches against lower league opposition.