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The new manager is keen to build a team rather than play "individuals" as he looks to balance his struggling side, and he is not afraid to make big selection calls

Sunderland manager Gus Poyet warned his squad he is not afraid to axe the club's top players in order to find the right balance in the team.

The Uruguyan's tenure did not get off to the ideal start as his charges were humbled 4-0 by Swansea City in his opening game in charge.

Sunderland are yet to win in the Premier League this term and have now taken just a solitary point from their eight fixtures and, ahead of the derby with Newcastle United, Poyet warned his players they are all at risk of being dropped.

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"Sometimes, people say in football that you need to pick your 11 best individuals," he told the Sunderland Echo.

"No - you need to pick your best team. And sometimes that means you need to leave out one of your best individuals. Now we need our best team.

"We need characters, rather than individuals. We need players who react the right way and who are mentally strong. That is more important than playing your 'best' player, or the player that everybody likes.

"In my opinion, if you are to do well then you need everybody to have a clear idea of how you want to play and to understand the system.

"If two or three don't do that, it is difficult. And if those two or three are in key positions, then you have a big problem."

Poyet has only been in the job for just over two weeks, and readily admits he has yet to decide on his strongest line-up.

"It is clear that, over the eight games so far this season, the 11 players on the pitch week in, week out, haven't clicked yet, for whatever reason," he continued.

"The day I can tell you my team from one to 11 without any doubts, we will be in a good situation. Now, I have an idea of seven or eight, but there are still some places open."