The Sunderland star Poyet must start against Bradford this weekend

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet needs to play his strongest team from the outset against Bradford City.

Gus Poyet must pick Jermain Defoe to lead the line for Sunderland against Bradford City this weekend, as it is a match that he simply cannot afford to lose.

The pressure is growing on the Uruguayan boss and a defeat to lower league opposition could see a small section of fans calling for him to be sacked turn into a vocal majority.

There is growing discontent around the Stadium of Light - with Poyet's moans at the fans and Sunderland's inconsistencies aggravating supporters.

It means that he simply has to give himself the best chance of avoiding an upset in the FA Cup, and playing Defoe will certainly do this.

The experienced England international has been a mainstay in the Black Cats' side since arriving in the January transfer window and the temptation, ordinarily, may have been to rest the 32-year-old against third-tier opposition.

Just this morning, Adam Johnson told Sunderland's official site that the FA Cup is a 'distraction' from their league campaign, but the importance of this game cannot be understated.

The Black Cats supporters are desperate to see some success after years of mediocrity and they have a great chance of going the distance in this tournament, with a number of the leading contenders already knocked out.

There have been a number of shocks in the FA Cup this season and that should serve as a warning to Sunderland of the consequences of not reaching their top levels.

Doing this without Defoe in their side, who is their only true goalscorer, looks difficult and Poyet must ensure that he resists the temptation to rest his key man to give his team the best chance of progressing.

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