Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino is hoping the dramatic events of this week will not affect his players at Sunderland tomorrow.

Nicola Cortese’s departure as chairman on Wednesday has caused a major distraction in the build-up to the clash at the Stadium of Light, writes GORDON SIMPSON.

Saints boss Pochettino says the importance of the fixture must not be lost amid the change in power at the top of the club, as his ninth-placed side look to start climbing the table again.

“The game on Saturday is very important for this club, for the supporters,” he said.

“It is only normal we are speaking about these things as it’s been five years that Nicola has been at this club, but we need to focus on the game from now on into Saturday, and it’s very important for us to get a positive result.”

Impact Pochettino admitted he is unsure exactly what impact, if any, the events of the last few days will cause among the players tomorrow.

However, he is confident they will approach the match in a professional manner.

“It’s hard to predict what is going to be the effect on the players,” he said. “It’s clear that it may affect the players.

“They all had varying degrees of relationship with Nicola Cortese. Of course, his leaving may affect us in some way.

“But we have to be professional and fully focused on the game on Saturday.”

Dani Osvaldo will serve the final game of his three-match ban, following his involvement in a touchline melee in the recent trip to Newcastle.

Midfielder Victor Wanyama, who has been out since early December with a hairline fracture in his leg, is back in training.

However, the Kenyan is perhaps still most likely to make his return in next week’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against Yeovil.