Sunderland manager Chris Coleman has vowed to field a full-strength XI against Middlesbrough in next month’s FA Cup third round tie.
The Black Cats will make their second visit of the season to the Riverside in the New Year, and will be desperate to avenge their 1-0 Championship defeat at the hands of Boro last month.
Boro have won each of the last four visits between the North-east rivals, conceding just once in an impressive run that dates back to February 2012.
But much has changed since the league meeting between the pair last month, with Boro having lost three of their last four matches to leave manager Garry Monk in a precarious position, with sections of supporters calling for his head.
Meanwhile Sunderland – managed at the Riverside by caretaker duo Robbie Stockdale and Billy McKinlay four weeks ago – have since appointed Chris Coleman, and the former Wales boss has been tasked with leading the club’s survival bid.
While most Premier League and Championship managers are likely to rotate their squads for the FA Cup weekend, scheduled for January 6/7, Coleman has pledged to buck the post-Christmas trend and go all out for victory at Boro.
“We will be going there at our strongest and we will be going there to try and win the game,” Coleman told the club’s website.
“We want to progress in the cup competition. We have got to pick up in the league and progress as far as we can in the cup.
“We owe the fans, they keep coming to support us.”
Coleman added: “It is local, really. Well to be fair, no one is local for Sunderland. I have found that out. Everywhere is a three-hour drive.
“But no, it is a great game, I love the FA Cup. I loved it as a player and a manager.”
Sunderland’s immediate focus will not be on Boro , however, with the small matter of a trip to league leaders Wolves looming large on Saturday.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s impressive side opened up a 10-point gap over third place after Monday’s 1-0 win at Birmingham, a result that also saw Wolves move 18 points above Boro after just 20 games.
Coleman knows his side will have it all to do at Molineux, and the Black Cats boss insists he’s not afraid to make big selection calls in a bid to get the club moving up the Championship standings.
“Whatever the players have done before, I can only pick a team based on what I see through the week,” Coleman told the Sunderland Echo .
“I look at the players’ mentality and physicality, and of course technically I know what they can do, and I will pick and prepare what I think is the best team. “
I’m not bothered if they have no international caps, 15 caps, or 50, if they’ve played in the Premier League or not, I will pick the team that I think is best ready for the next opposition.
“One or two will be disappointed from week to week, but I like that – it shows that they care.
“I look at individuals and ask whether they can fit into my game-plan, and if I feel they can then they will get a chance. I think that’s just me doing my job properly.
“I can’t comment on what has happened before me, last year or the year before with certain players, I can only go with what I see.”