Keane rues depth of squad
Roy Keane has had to use players when not fully fit because of Sunderland's squad size and injuries.
Last Updated: 21/02/08 6:34pm
Sunderland boss Roy Keane has been left to rue the depth of his squad which has led him to use players when not fully fit.
While Keane has spent about £44million on new signings during his 18 months in charge at the Stadium of Light, the Black Cats still have a smaller squad than some Premier League rivals.
With a spate of injuries, this has led the Irishman to field players who are not fully fit - and Sunderland have paid the price.
Among those to have suffered are £5.5 million summer signing Kieran Richardson, who lasted just minutes into his return from a hamstring problem at Liverpool on 2nd February.
The influential winger is still unlikely to have recovered in time for Saturday's trip to Portsmouth.
Another to suffer is defender Danny Higginbotham, who played on for several weeks with a broken toe and later had to undergo surgery to repair the damage.
Reflecting on the situation, Keane said: "That is why in an ideal world, you want a bigger, stronger squad.
"I am always looking at the bigger teams and what they tend to do, and if there is any doubt about any of their players, then they just won't play them.
"But beggars cannot be choosers. We have not been in that position. We have had to ask the lads to push their bodies.
"At this stage of the season, players may be physically and mentally getting tired."
He added: "The danger when you ask any player - I have done it many times - 'Are you fit?', is any decent footballer will, say, 'Yes, I am fit', especially with the situation we are in.
Chalk and cheese
"Kieran had trained well all week - but training, let me tell you, to going into a Premier League game, is chalk and cheese. It is completely different.
"That's what we have been maybe a little bit guilty of - maybe with Kieran, not with other players - and we are paying the price a little bit now.
"We had to play Danny Higginbotham with his injury for three or four weeks because we had nobody else, and Danny now is out for a few weeks because his toe got a lot worse."