DICK ADVOCAAT admits the Sunderland squad he has inherited lacks sufficient muscle, particularly with a trip to Stoke City on the horizon.
It is four weeks today since Advocaat took charge at Sunderland, with the Black Cats managing to extend the gap with the drop zone to three points during that time, despite Saturday’s shambolic collapse to Crystal Palace.
But like predecessors Paolo Di Canio and Gus Poyet, Advocaat has begun to hint at a lack of quality in Sunderland’s ranks.
Advocaat believes one of Sunderland’s shortcomings is insufficient physical presence after Poyet assembled a side designed to play a possession-based, Continental style.
There are not any obvious solutions waiting in the wings to address that problem, but it is weighing heavily on Advocaat’s mind ahead of the tussle at Stoke on Saturday-week.
Advocaat said: “We are not a real physical team. If you compare us with the other teams, that’s a big difference.
“In the Premier League, you need physical players as well.
“We have to think about that for the game with Stoke City.
“We have different type of players, who are more combination players, than with more pace.
“We have to find a combination to create chances and win games.
“We cannot complain to each other. You win games together, you lose games together.
“They also know they played badly in the second half against Crystal Palace. The way we gave the goals away was very poor.
“But we have to do it with this squad, and we will do it with this squad.”
Advocaat has plenty of chance to find a solution before the trip to the Britannia Stadium, with Sunderland not in action this weekend due to the FA Cup.
However, the former Holland manager admits that a break is the last thing he wants, as Sunderland are forced to stew on their Palace collapse, rather than facing a chance to make amends.
And with fellow strugglers Burnley and Leicester both in action this Saturday, Sunderland’s buffer with the drop zone could be eroded without them even playing.
“No, it doesn’t help not having a game this weekend,” admitted Advocaat.
“Now we have to wait 14 days and the other teams are playing next weekend.
“You don’t know what is going to happen before then.”