Poyet salutes unique Gerrard

Gerrard may make his final appearance as a player in the north-east when he steps out at the Stadium of Light on Saturday a few days after announcing he is off to the MLS and play for the LA Galaxy at the end of the season.

Poyet said: “If I was a football fan I would want to be at the stadium because I would not want to miss the chance to watch Steven Gerrard live for maybe the last time in the north east.

“He is worth buying a ticket for because there are not many like him and he is going to be missed. He is different and it is great to get the opportunity to watch him live.”

Poyet has told his players they must start turning their recent glut of draws into wins if they are to climb away from the drop zone.??

Last weekend’s FA Cup third-round win over Leeds provided signs of a turning point with Dutchman Patrick van Aanholt returning from injury to grab the only goal of the game.

Poyet added: “We had a difficult month against lots of top teams and although I don’t think we did fantastic we did okay.

“Now we go into the second (part of the season) knowing we need to win more games and we need to be more clinical at home. Everything starts against Liverpool and the challenge is clear.”

Van Aanholt is set to keep his starting place after his impressive return while Poyet’s only major doubt remains midfielder Lee Cattermole who has missed the last two games with a groin problem.

Meanwhile Poyet suggested any transfer targets in the January window remained some way off and sought to cool reports from the US that Jozy Altidore is closing in on a return to the MLS.

Poyet added: “We are working very hard but it is difficult. We cannot control the rumours but the idea is to finish the month with a better group of players which means we have a better chance of winning games.

“We cannot control other teams trying to get any of our players but officially there has been no approach for any of our players so we need to wait. With Jozy things are clear – we talk together a lot and we are both very clear on what the future should bring.”