A third home game in a week sees Sunderland welcome Fleetwood Town for the first ever meeting between the two sides.
Sunderland manager Jack Ross will have a selection headache as a result of the midweek Checkatrade Trophy win over Stoke. Academy product Denver Hume and new signing Tom Flanagan both impressed in the back four, both have given themselves a great chance of being picked on Saturday afternoon especially with injuries in their positions. Hume at right back and Flanagan partnering Jack Baldwin at centre half are equally possible, however only the latter will come to fruition.
Max Power starts the first of his three-match ban for the red card he picked up in the 1-1 draw with Oxford, Dylan McGeouch looks set to take his place after his performance in mid-week. It wasn’t a perfect display, but he set himself ahead of the competition. Chris Wyke and Josh Maja both started in mid-week but the former still didn’t look 100% fit so Maja looks set to lead the line once more.
The unavailability of Power should see Ross tinker with his formation. Lee Cattermole will remain in his usual position just ahead of the back four and George Honeyman will take the place of Power in helping with any defence work if required. McGeouch will play slightly further forward with Chris Maguire and Lyndon Gooch resuming their usual roles out wide.
Sunderland likely line-up
Hume Ozturk Baldwin James
Gooch Honeyman McGeouch Maguire
The visitors at the weekend come to the Stadium of Light in fine form. having not lost since the opening day, Joey Barton has turned his side into a tough unit who have been scoring goals with ease this campaign. The 5-0 win at Scunthorpe was a standout result, undoubtedly, they will come out firing this way on Wearside especially given Barton’s history playing for Newcastle United. This is a match which he will be more eager than ever to win. Ched Evans has been a handful this season and Saturday should see more of the same. A further point would be that if Sunderland want to keep their visitors at arm’s length, they need to be stronger when defending set pieces. This is proving to be an issue and one which needs addressing; especially against a physical side such as Fleetwood.
Sunderland almost became unstuck against Oxford last weekend and Ross will be keen to make sure the at times lethargic performance doesn’t get replicated this Saturday afternoon. Three hard fought points for the hosts should be the outcome.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Fleetwood Town